Each year, too many truck accidents occur which injure or are fatal to thousands of victims. Unfortunately, Texas continues to be one of the states with the highest accident statistics in the country. If you were the victim of a truck accident, you can find justice with a Houston 18-wheeler accident lawyer, but it’s also important to understand the reasons behind these accidents that support your case.
A Multi-Faceted Problem
Why are truck drivers so aggressive? There are many reasons, and they all place the other drivers on the road at a much higher risk of being involved in an accident. Additionally, the risk is higher of sustaining a serious injury due to the sheer size of these vehicles. Unlike a car, for example, an 18-wheeler is much more difficult to control when it swerves or slides.
This is especially true when a truck is carrying a full load; cargo that shifts inside the truck will increase the severity of swerving and sliding, and a heavier load will have far more power in terms of doing damage to vehicles and their occupants.
Although we all know there is never a good reason for a truck driver to drive recklessly or aggressively, these accidents continue to injure or kill thousands of drivers. Why?
The trucking industry today is much different from what it used to be. Where driver screening and training were once at the forefront, saving money in the face of increased business costs is more the norm today. As a result, trucking companies that hire reckless drivers are also becoming more common.
Driver wages continue to remain stagnant as fuel costs rise, making it more difficult to earn a living. The absence of unions, which in large part allowed drivers to earn a decent wage, is now prevalent. In general, there is more pressure on companies and drivers to transport their loads on time whatever the cost. The result is that the line between staying ahead of schedule and driving aggressively becomes easily blurred.
Lack of Training
In their rush to get drivers on the road and to save money and time, trucking companies can cut many corners, including important aspects of training. Basic skills may be left for drivers to figure out on their own, adding to the stress of the job and dramatically increasing the frustration that can lead to dangerous truck driving.
No Value Placed on Sleep
We all know the health benefits of a good night’s sleep, but when the job is to transport large loads of cargo in an 18-wheeler, ensuring the driver is sufficiently rested can literally save lives. Unfortunately, too many trucking companies continue to allow drivers to drive without sufficient—or any—rest, even though it’s a well-known fact that driving without proper sleep is equally as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Not getting enough sleep can lead to impaired vision, decreased attention span, poor ability to make decisions, and mood swings, all which can lead to the aggressive and reckless driving that causes accidents.
When drivers are poorly trained or drive tired, they can easily miss important signs that something is amiss with their vehicles when they perform routine checks before and after driving. This can cause small issues to go unchecked and become serious problems that threaten their safety and those of every other driver with whom they share the road.
Driving While Impaired
Drugs and alcohol can cause a person to become aggressive and reckless behind the wheel. A driver who was drunk or high at the time they caused an accident will end up in court, and trucking companies that hire reckless drivers continue to suffer severe penalties as a result of hiring these drivers and not offering opportunities for rehabilitation to their employees.
How to Spot Aggressive Driving
Although it may seem obvious, it’s important to know what constitutes aggressive driving in the state of Texas. It takes many forms, from mild to severe. An aggressive truck driver may follow you too closely in an attempt to get you to increase your speed, resulting in an accident if you need to apply your brakes.
They may also pass you in the wrong lane of a highway in an attempt to get ahead of you and other vehicles. Driving aggressively also includes running lights and stop signs, blocking or cutting you off, and speeding.
Road rage, the most severe form of reckless and aggressive driving, can involve physical assault leading to injury and hospitalization. If you notice a semi-truck tailgating, speeding, swerving, and ignoring the space and rights of other drivers on the road, it’s your right to report them.
Reporting Aggressive Driving
The best thing to do when you spot an aggressive truck driver is to pull off of the road and dial 911. Try to provide as much information as possible about the truck, including visual description, location, license plate number, trucking company name, and the type of aggressive or reckless driving you witnessed.
You can also file a complaint with the FMCSA, or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This branch of the Department of Transportation deals with the enforcement of federal trucking law, which covers all of the above causes of recklessness and aggressiveness among truck drivers.
What to Do if You Were Involved in an Accident
If you were involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, the most important thing to do is ensure you and anyone else in your vehicle are okay. Always call 911 as soon as possible and request an ambulance be sent to your location. If you believe you were injured, medical attention is absolutely the first thing you should receive before doing anything else.
This may mean a trip to the hospital to rule out any serious injury. However, it can also ensure there is an official record of medical examination, which can help you in court. If there were others in your vehicle at the time the accident occurred, try to get them to record the truck driver’s information, including the name of the trucking company, insurance, registration, and license information.
Call a Lawyer
Once any injuries have been treated and you’ve been released from the hospital, calling a Houston 18-wheeler accident lawyer to represent you as soon as possible is your next step. Why call a lawyer? Because doing so is your best chance of getting monetary compensation for your injuries. Many trucking companies have tried to avoid responsibility for their lack of concern over their drivers and have been successful.
Sustaining injury from reckless or aggressive truck drivers can mean days, weeks, or months off work. Can you still afford to meet your financial obligations if you are not earning any money? If the answer is no, then calling an attorney is absolutely essential.
Trucking Companies Need to Be Held Responsible
It’s true that there are many reasons that accidents with 18-wheelers occur. However, none of them make it acceptable for a trucking company to simply walk away from the injuries and other negative consequences of an accident that they caused.
There are federal regulations in place that restrict the number of hours drivers can be on the road, but dangerous truck driving continues to be the cause of hundreds of thousands of accidents. This is because national trucking companies continue to use their vast resources to circumvent federal regulations and silence drivers like you.
When you have a team of experienced and dedicated lawyers on your side, you can tell those companies that you won’t be a victim.
Johnson Garcia LLP has helped our clients recover millions of dollars in lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering damages. That’s because we know how to hold trucking companies, drivers, and manufacturers responsible for their roles in your accident. You don’t have to continue to struggle to pay your bills and expenses as the result of an aggressive and reckless truck driver; contact us today for your free consultation.