According to the Texas Department of Transport, reported accidents happened after every 61 seconds in 2015. Many of these accidents were caused by drivers’ mistakes, the leading being speeding, and driving under the influence. A collision with a truck, no matter its speed, can cause catastrophic injuries.
Therefore, it is essential to acquaint yourself with the laws governing the trucking industry, who might be legally responsible for a truck accident, and how truck accidents differ from other motor vehicle accidents.
What Vehicles are Considered as Trucks?
The answer to this question can be harder to determine than you think. In Texas, a truck is defined as any motor vehicle used to mainly convey items or properties. Generally, when people refer to truck accidents, they mean crashes involving big commercial trucks like;
- 18 wheelers
- Delivery trucks
- Big rigs
- Box trucks
- Tow trucks
- Refrigerated trucks
- Dump trucks
- Oil and gas trucks
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), Texas ranks first in the country with the most deadly truck accidents.
What are the Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents?
Crash statistics by the Texas Department of Transport show that the most common causes of truck accidents include:
139,131 car accidents in Texas were caused by speeding, and 500 were fatal accidents. Speeding is very dangerous since it gives the driver a short time to react to any traffic patterns or changes, making a crash more possible. High speed also increases the force put forth to the other vehicles in an accident, increasing the chances of being fatal.
Just like most drivers, truck drivers carry cell phones; they listen to music, operate GPS gears, and they eat and drink while driving. The long sections of empty freeways are always boring scenes for these drivers.
Truck drivers must always pay attention as they operate vehicles carrying enormous tons of goods down the highway at high speed while maneuvering the trucks on a limited space. Truck drivers must also keep their hands, eyes, and attention on the road as a single distraction can spell disaster for other vehicles as well as people on the road.
Truck driver fatigue is another leading cause of truck accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) notes that truck driver fatigue can be caused by lengthy work hours, insufficient sleep, physical or even mental labor that impacts their performance, or vigorous activities. Commercial truck drivers are more likely to drive while drowsy or tired than other drivers.
A lot of trucking companies tend to set unworkable standards for drivers. Drivers, especially those who get paid to haul, experience terrific pressure to complete a haul quickly and take another. This, in turn, presses the driver to drive beyond the recommended safety limits.
Texas highways are susceptible to particular effects of bad weather. Rain, ice, or snow can make a driver lose control of their truck, and when that happens, all the road users are in danger. Truck drivers are expected to maintain a realistic speed and adjust their speed for varying road conditions.
The speed limit might suggest one thing; however, the speed at which a truck can go is ultimately determined by the visibility and traction loss. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Texas Commercial Motor Handbook have particular rules that trucks must follow during extreme weather. The truck drivers must:
- Reduce speed
- Turn on the lights
- Exercise extreme caution
- Pullover whenever necessary
- Be ready to stop at a seconds warning
- Observe all weather-related traffic signs
Reckless driving is a serious offense in Texas. Reckless driving is when a driver disregards other people’s safety on the road, and law enforcement officers might consider that he or she showed irresponsibility, carelessness, and dangerous driving.
There are numerous ways of proving ignorant or negligent behavior that can be considered reckless driving. For instance, driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated. Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any other hallucinogenic substance is illegal. However, some truck drivers do it, putting everyone on the road in extreme danger.
Other things that show recklessness of a driver include;
- Racing with other cars
- Passing a stopped school bus
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Running red lights and putting other drivers in danger
- Texting and driving
- Failing to signal other drivers
- Evading law enforcement officers
In Texas, truck accidents happen all the time. Such accidents can lead to property destruction, significant injuries, and sometimes death. Additionally, when a commercial truck smashes into a light truck, a car, or an SUV, the passengers are likely to suffer serious injuries or even death. If you or your loved one has been involved in a truck accident caused by the negligence of a truck driver, get help from an 18 wheeler accident attorney. Visit us today at Johnson Garcia LLP for a free consultation.