Collisions Involving Heavy Commercial Vehicles

Most people recognize that the more someone drives, the greater the chance the driver will be involved in an accident. "Road exposure" is commonly measured as vehicle kilometres driven and is an important factor for providing perspective on any safety record (e.g., consider a vehicle involved in one collision in 10,000 km vs. a vehicle involved in one collision in 1,000,000 km).

Unfortunately, ICBC collision data, our source for industry crash statistics, isn't compatible with Statistics Canada data on industry road exposure. So, instead of relying on road exposure statistics, we have used the total number of licensed (i.e., actively insured) heavy commercial vehicles (HCVs) with licensed gross vehicle weight (LGVW) greater than or equal to 11,795 kg based on ICBC records as a proxy, to put HCV collisions into context.

The chart shows casualty (fatal and injury) and property damage only (PDO) collisions per 10,000 licensed HCVs in BC from 2003 to 2015. The number of collisions peaked at 2,275 per 10,000 HCVs in 2007 and was at 1,911 per 10,000 HCVs in 2015. The data shows a steady decline in the HCV collision rate from 2007 to 2010 (average reduction of 4% per year).

Between 2012 and 2015, the average collision rate was 1,877 collisions per 10,000 HCVs and appears to have remained fairly consistent – ranging from 1,813 to 1,911 collisions per 10,000 HCVs.

The collision rate in 2015 was 16% lower compared to the peak in 2007.

Collisions Involving Buses

As shown in the chart below, the number of casualty and PDO collisions per 100 licensed buses (i.e., actively insured buses) peaked in 2007.[1] Since 2007, the collision rate steadily decreased from 23 collisions per 100 licensed buses in 2007 to 18 collisions per 100 licensed buses in 2013 – a reduction of approximately 22%.

The following chart shows the 2015 bus collision rate by type of operation. Public, airport, and charter buses, which are lumped into the same category by ICBC, had the highest collision rate compared to the other two types of bus-use categories – private and school buses and religious-use buses.

From 2007 to 2015, the collision rate for public, airport, and charter buses have decreased at a different rate than the collision rates for the other two operation types. During this period, the collision rate for public, airport, and charter buses decreased by 22%. In comparison, the collision rate for private and school buses decreased by 40%, and the collision rate for religious-use buses increased by 35%.

The chart below shows the collision rate for buses broken down by bus size (i.e., seating capacity). In 2015, the collision rate for buses with 22-41 seats was higher than the collision rate for buses with 42 or more seats, which had the same collision rate as buses with 21 or fewer seats. With the exception of 2014 and 2015, the collision rate for buses with 22-41 seats has been higher than the collision rate for buses with 42 or more seats, which in turn had a higher collision rate than buses with 21 or fewer seats for every year between 2004 and 2013.[2]

Incident Types and Causes Based on WorkSafeBC Claims (2012-2016)

According to WorkSafeBC, over 10,300 BC employers were registered in the General Trucking classification unit (CU 732019) in 2016.  The vast majority of these employers are owner/operators or small employers with fewer than five workers, with only 223 firms employing 20 or more workers.

There was an average of 1,063 time-loss injuries in the General Trucking CU per year from 2012 to 2016. On average, these workers miss almost 77 days of work, with a total per-claim cost of around $38,000. This figure does not represent the true cost of the incident, which may be two to four times higher.

Almost 1 in 20 workers in General Trucking will sustain a time-loss injury each year, giving this CU an injury rate of 4.7[3]. While this is comparable to the Transportation and Related Services Subsector, it is over two times higher than the provincial average.

The tables below show the top 10 motor vehicle  incident types and top 10 incident causes for drivers employed  in General Trucking based on WorkSafeBC data from 2012 to 2016.[4] The incident type with the highest number of claims[5] during this period was “jack-knifed or overturned” without involving a collision with another vehicle.

As show in the table below, based on the number of claims, overexertion was the number one cause of incidents among drivers employed in General Trucking.


[1] The collision rate for buses was expressed per 100 licensed vehicles rather than 10,000 licensed vehicles due to the substantially smaller size of the bus fleet relative to the heavy commercial vehicle fleet.

[2] In 2003, buses with 21 or fewer seats had a higher collision rate than buses with 42 or more seats (buses with 22-41 seats had the highest rate).

[3] The injury rate is number of time loss claims per 100 person-years of employment. (Person-year is the equivalent of one person working all year on either a full-time or part-time basis.)

[4] Claims include injuries and fatalities resulting in time lost from work – injuries or fatalities for which short-term disability, long-term disability, or survivor benefits have been awarded

[5] WorkSafeBC data does not include all work-related motor vehicle incidents because workers have the right to claim benefits through ICBC in some cases (such as multi-vehicle accidents, driver was not at fault, and the driver of the other vehicle was a non-worker). ICBC claims are not captured in this data.