The highways and roads in Texas are clogged with large trucks these days, especially since the oil and gas boom started statewide. With a large number of trucks comes a large number of truck accidents. The size of large commercial trucks, as well as the speeds they travel combine to create some very dangerous conditions for all vehicles. Nationwide, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 104,000 people were injured and nearly 4,000 were killed in accidents involving large trucks in 2012.
However, it wasn’t so much the truck drivers who suffered, but the drivers and passengers of the other, smaller vehicles on the road. Only 24 percent of the injured victims of truck accidents were the truck drivers themselves, whereas 73 percent were passengers of non-trucks. The numbers are similar when you look at fatalities; only 18 percent were the truck drivers themselves, while 73 percent were in non-truck vehicles.
The most common causes of Texas trucking accidents include:
- Nationwide and in Texas, Speeding, Reckless Driving and Aggressive Driving are the most cited factors in motor vehicle accidents, including those involving large trucks. Many accidents are caused by following too closely, while almost as many were blamed on unsafe lane changes. Trucks don’t have the maneuverability of a basic passenger car, obviously, and they can’t stop on a dime. And with many drivers of 18-wheelers attempting to maintain delivery schedules that may be unrealistic and many others trying to go an extra 100 miles or so to make more money, many drivers are operating far too aggressively.
- Driver Fatigue is a constant problem, especially when it comes to long-haul drivers of 18-wheelers. They spend many long hours behind the wheel, often alone, which has a way of increasing fatigue. The federal government has a number of “Hours of Service” (HOS) rules that limit the amount of time drivers can be on the road without a break, but many drivers violate those, often with a wink and a nod on the part of their employees, because more runs means increased profits. What happens too often is that you have a drowsy driver operating a truck weighing more than 40 tons at 80 miles per hour down a crowded highway, which isn’t good for anyone.
- Distracted Driving has always been a significant cause of trucking accidents on Texas roadways, what with drivers eating and drinking and playing with one type of radio or another, but in recent years the problem has become something of an epidemic, with the proliferation of cell phones, with which drivers talk or text, or the increased use of a GPS device. Texting, for example, is said to increase the risk of a crash by more than 2,000 percent. In addition to the same types of distractions that every driver is prone to, many truckers must also use devices designed to make fleet management more efficient, which can distract them, as well.
- Impaired Driving is still a major problem among truck drivers in Texas, despite the fact that drivers of all commercial vehicles are subject to random drug testing and medical exams to make sure they are fit to operate a vehicle safely. Both legal and illegal drugs and alcohol are part of the problem, especially when drivers turn to drugs to help them stay awake while they drive for many hours at a time.
- Dangerous Texas Roads are also a big problem, especially with the proliferation of trucks due to the oil and gas boom, which has resulted in extremely large and heavy trucks clogging rural roads that were not made for them. Texas is now a major hub for transporting all kinds of goods in and out of Mexico, as well, and the combined traffic has left many Texas roads a shambles, creating a significant hazard for many vehicles.
Trucks Colliding With Smaller Vehicles Can Be Deadly
Accidents that involve 18-wheelers can be nothing short of catastrophic, especially when other, smaller vehicles are involved. The trucking industry is very heavily regulated and certain standards have been established that all truckers and trucking companies must adhere to, including how long they are allowed to drive without a break, how much sleep they’re required to get and there are also measures to make sure they’re not impaired in any way. The trucks themselves are also regulated, including standards with regard to service and maintenance of the vehicles.
Unfortunately, because of financial considerations and a tendency to place profit ahead of safety at times, not all of these standards are adhered to by some operators of these massive vehicles and quite often, the driver and/or the trucking company has been negligent in some way when an accident happens. Large truck accident cases are very complex, however, and they present a number of very difficult issues that must be dealt with by experts.
The Gutierrez Law Firm, Texas Trucking Accident Lawyers
If you have been in an accident involving a large truck, you need an experienced, qualified attorney who understands both the common and uncommon reasons why trucking accidents happen, and who can handle all of the dynamics of the case. The Gutierrez Law Firm has the skills and expertise to evaluate your case and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation today.