Causes of Truck Accidents in Houston

Texas truck accident lawyers

Large trucks are crucial to the transportation industry. Most people don’t go a single day without buying or using something that spent time being transported by an 18-wheeler. Though the amount big rigs can haul makes them extremely efficient at shipping large quantities of goods across significant distances, the magnitude of a commercial truck can prove deadly. Whether they are 18-wheelers or much smaller trucks used to transport items as part of the flow of the supply chain, commercial vehicles are generally much larger and weigh much more than passenger vehicles. Therefore, when a semi-truck collides with a small car, the odds are not in the smaller vehicle’s (or its occupants’) favor. In fact, 98 percent of truck accident fatalities happen to the passengers or drivers in cars.

Although big trucks are integral to our country’s economic infrastructure, they also pose serious risks on the roadways. As experienced personal injury lawyers, we have seen firsthand how dangerous truck accidents can be. Everyone driving or riding in a motor vehicle should be aware of the common causes of truck accidents.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Because of their size and weight, trucks can cause devastating roadway accidents. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2019, there were 33,244 fatal roadway crashes nationally. Of those, 4,696 (14.1 percent) involved at least one large truck or bus. In addition, of the 6,722,000 nonfatal crashes, 575,000 (8.6 percent) involved at least one large truck or bus. Furthermore, of the 510,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks in 2019, there were 4,479 (1 percent) fatal crashes and 114,000 (29 percent) injury crashes. In the entire United States, Texas had the most truck accident fatalities in 2019 at 658 – this represents about 12.6 percent of all roadway accidents in the state.

Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:

  • Distracted Driving – Truck drivers are just as susceptible to distractions as drivers of passenger vehicles. Distractions can range from using cell phones, changing the radio station, or eating. Regardless of the distraction, it is dangerous and should not be done while driving. While some cities in Texas have passed local laws making it illegal to use a cell phone while driving, Houston has not, which means truck drivers on our roads and freeways can use their smartphones and other mobile devices to play music, get directions, and take calls.
  • Driver Fatigue – Drowsy driving is a major cause of truck accidents. There are federal guidelines in place that limit the maximum amount of time truck drivers are allowed to operate, but sometimes these go ignored. When a truck driver is fatigued they suffer slower reaction times, poor decision-making capability, and risk falling asleep completely. Every year, sleep deprivation causes 100,000 truck crashes. Drowsy truck drivers have caused 40,000 crash-related injuries and 1,500 fatalities.
  • Speeding – The dangers of speeding are well known, but this doesn’t stop people from doing it. Trucks require a longer time to come to a complete stop than passenger vehicles, so it is especially important that truck drivers obey posted speed limits. Unfortunately, not all of them do and this leads to deadly accidents. Aggressive driving leads to 5 percent of all truck accidents nationally. This can include speeding but also swerving, tailgating, honking, and more.
  • Failure To Check Blind Spots – Truck drivers are trained to check their blind spots before turning or changing lanes; however, even the most experienced truck driver can forget to look before moving. Even beyond the known blind spots, the cargo a rig is carrying can also obstruct a driver’s view.
  • Overloaded Cargo – There are very specific weight limits for loading large trucks. Overloaded trucks are dangerous for a number of reasons. First, they can throw off a truck’s center of balance, making it more likely to roll over. Overloaded trucks can also cause a driver to lose control of the truck due to the weight of the cargo. Finally, overloaded trucks take more time to come to a complete stop.
  • Poor Maintenance – Trucks spend nearly every day on the road. With so much use, these vehicles need regular maintenance to keep them running properly and safely. Companies that do not perform regular maintenance on their trucks are putting everyone on the roadways at risk. The most common problem found due to lack of maintenance is brake issues.
  • Driving Under the Influence – Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is dangerous regardless of the vehicle. Truck drivers have a huge responsibility to drive safely, and driving under the influence can easily cause fatal accidents. With a commercial driver’s license (CDL), the standard for intoxication is lower – a truck driver can be found legally drunk with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of only 0.4 percent.
  • Tire Defects or Blowouts – 18-wheelers and other semi-trucks have a lot of tires to increase their stability. Defective tires cause almost one-third of all truck accidents. Worn tires can cause blowouts, but tire blowouts can also be caused by overloading, road hazards, and more.
  • New Routes – A new tour route is one of the top three most common causes of truck accidents. If a trucking company is rushing a driver to move their cargo load quickly to maximize profits, but the driver is unfamiliar with the route they are maneuvering, crashes can result. Looking down at a GPS because you are unfamiliar can cause distracted driving accidents.
  • Road and Weather Conditions – Road construction and confusing traffic signals can cause truck accidents as can severe weather that diminishes visibility. Weather is unpredictable and truckers must be prepared to react to it. Snow, ice, flooding, and heavy rain can and do all affect road conditions and the time required to react to changes ahead of a big rig.

Know Your Rights After a Truck Accident

Truck accident victims have a long road to recovery. They will face huge physical, emotional, and financial obstacles. Victims and their families do not have to suffer alone. Those who were injured by a truck have the legal right to pursue compensation from negligent truck drivers, the companies that employ them, and other responsible parties.

After a truck accident, injury victims and the families of those who may have been killed need to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. All big rigs engaged in interstate commerce have to carry certain types and amounts of insurance, so those insurance companies and the trucking companies themselves will arrive at the accident scene quickly doing all they can to protect their interests. The victims of truck accidents need an experienced truck accident lawyer to protect their rights, preserve evidence, and ensure an insurance company or trucking company does not try to take advantage of them.

Get Help with Your Truck Wreck Claim

There are so many different types of trucks that passenger vehicles share the roads with, including cement trucks, tow trucks, delivery trucks, and 18-wheelers. Truck drivers cause most truck accidents in Houston by violating federal and/or state regulations that govern the transportation industry. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know these rules and can investigate the facts of your case to see who might be responsible and what they did wrong that caused the crash. If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a truck accident, the trial lawyers at Dax F. Garza, P.C. can give you legal advice at no cost.

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