Wyoming the most dangerous state for truckers?

Screen Shot 2021 06 28 At 3 39 52 Pm Headshot
semi crashing into highway patrol in South Dakota
This distracted driving incident happened in South Dakota, one of the most dangerous states for truck drivers according to a new study.
South Dakota Highway Patrol

After a "winter from hell" full of interstate closures and nightmare road conditions, a new study suggests Wyoming might just be the most dangerous state in the U.S. for truckers when it comes to the likelihood of involvement in a fatality crash. According to an analysis of 2020 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data by Simplex, a transportation services company, in 2020 Wyoming had more large truck crashes as a share of overall fatal crashes than any other state. 

[Related: States with the worst traffic and highways, ranked]

More recent estimates from the NHTSA say that fatalities probably went down in 2022, but since then, plenty of anecdotal data has come up suggesting that the Cowboy State might be as dangerous as ever. 

simplex crash data most dangerous states for driversAlthough plenty of states had more truck-involved fatality crashes than sparsely populated Wyoming, Wyoming's fatal crashes tended to involve large trucks at a rate higher than any other state. On this map, each dot shows the location of a truck-involved fatality crash in 2020.Simplex

A map of fatal truck crashes in Wyoming shows a concentration on I-80 between Laramie and Rawlins, which this most recent winter saw dozens of closures, sometimes just staying open for a few hours between crashes or weather events. 

Every winter, road crews in Wyoming battle gigantic snow drifts that can close I-80 just from wind alone that moves snow off the high plains and over the road even days after a storm. The frequent closures left drivers stranded and produced no shortage of hair-raising dashcam videos

Worse, Wyoming Highway Patrol during the same period reported finding drivers using tablets and even watching movies behind the wheel. Overall, Wyoming's long, flat stretch of I-80 along the Rockies seems to invite both distracted driving and bad weather, so much so that the state's legislature explored a $12.6 billion plan to reroute I-80

[Related: Long Haul Paul's "Winter from hell" on I-80 in Wyoming]

Out of the 174 fatal vehicle crashes that occurred in Wyoming in 2020, 33 involved large trucks, or about 19% of the state's total fatal crashes. Other high-scorers on the list also hailed from the West and Midwest, charting a contiguous line from Idaho (16.3%) east to Iowa. 

Michigan, with its rather permissive approach to weight restrictions on state routes, came out as the safest state for truck drivers when it comes to likelihood of a truck-involved fatality crash, with only 4.7% of its fatal crashes involving large trucks.

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"This research offers an interesting insight into which states are lagging behind the goal of making roads safer for truck drivers," said a Simplex spokesperson. "It also highlights the need for these states to consider implementing more truck-safe road systems for drivers." 

[Related: Oversize hauler's mobile-shower solution for small sleepers, more 'winter from hell' on Wyoming I-80]

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