Take a look at any highway or road around Houston and you’ll more than likely spot an 18-wheeler or other large truck. Houston’s 2.3 million residents interact with large trucks on a daily basis; and, because of this it’s easy for Houstonians to forget the dangers that large trucks present. As a bustling city consistently growing in population, jobs, and demand for goods, Houston trucking accidents are sadly growing increasingly common. The United States economy is heavily dependent on the trucking industry. The Bureau of Transportation reported that the trucking industry was responsible for transporting more than $66 billion worth of goods across the country in 2018 alone.
Causes of Large Truck Accidents
In the blink of an eye, a large truck can cause a roadway accident. Because even “minor” trucking accidents can cause life-altering injuries, trucking companies and truck drivers have a responsibility to exercise great caution. Trucking companies must perform all required maintenance and routinely inspect every vehicle before every trip to ensure its fitness for the road. Additionally, trucking companies should require routine driving safety courses for all drivers. Below we discuss some of the most common causes of truck accidents:
The design of large trucks can not only cause a catastrophic accident itself, but it can also increase the severity of the resulting injuries and damages. Due to their tall height, weight, and sheer size, large trucks – such as 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers – can be extremely difficult to control, are unable to stop quickly, and cannot be maneuvered the way passenger vehicles can. Furthermore, the speed and weight of a big rig cause trucking accidents to occur with an amplified impact.
Operating any motor vehicle requires attention, but operating a large truck requires even more responsibility. Large trucks can weigh 20-30 times more than a passenger vehicle; therefore, they have an increased ability to cause serious injuries and death. Part of driving large trucks safely is taking adequate rest. Truck drivers are often required to move cargo over long distances within tight deadlines; and, if they do not adhere to federal regulations regarding maximum driving time, drivers can become fatigued and lose consciousness and control of their vehicles. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found truck drivers behind the wheel for longer than eight hours are twice as likely to crash or cause an accident. Under current federal regulations, large truck drivers are allowed to be behind the wheel for as long as 11 hours at a time.
In addition to needing a rested and observant navigator, a large truck can only be as safe as its parts. Equipment failure causes numerous preventable trucking accidents every year. Through routine maintenance and inspection of all vehicle parts, truck equipment failure accidents can be avoided. Faulty braking mechanisms are the most commonly defective component part of large trucks. In a post-crash analysis of large truck accidents, IIHS found almost 55% of trucks had at least one mechanical violation and 30% had at least one violation serious enough to take the truck out of service. When trucking companies and drivers fail to routinely inspect their trucks and cargo equipment, they risk the lives of all who share the road with them. A truck carrying a cargo load that is unable to stop due to malfunctioning brakes could cause a fatal accident in mere seconds.
Other causes of trucking accidents include:
- Improper weight load
- Improper lane change
- Driver intoxication
- Road debris
- Loose cargo
- Road construction
- Malfunctioning lights
- Improper stopping distance
Common Trucking Accident Injuries
Due to the size and weight of large trucks, they can catastrophically injure or even kill victims upon impact. For this reason, motor vehicle occupants involved in trucking accidents disproportionately suffer severe injuries and fatalities compared to large truck occupants. According to IIHS, 4,136 people were killed in truck accidents in 2018 alone – 67% were passenger vehicle occupants, 15% were pedestrians or cyclists, but only 16% of all fatalities were truck drivers or occupants.
Truck accident victims commonly sustain the following injuries:
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Burn injuries
- Deep cuts and lacerations
- Internal injuries
Houston Truck Accident Lawyers
Houstonians have a lot of road to cover, but no one should fear daily life on the road because of negligent trucking companies and truck drivers. It’s time to hold the trucking industry accountable for the role its vehicles play in fatal accidents every year by ensuring appropriate measures to increase safety. If you or a loved one is a victim of a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the Houston truck accident lawyers at Dax F. Garza, P.C. to learn more about how we can help you recover financial compensation for your damages.