Car wrecks, especially those involving big trucks and 18-wheelers, can be devastating to the people involved. Big trucks and 18-wheelers can weigh 80,000 pounds or more as they travel down Texas’ roadways and highways, which is roughly 20 times heavier than the average car. Due to the sheer size and weight of big trucks and 18-wheelers, the nature of these types of wrecks is typically more severe.
If you drive any of the highways in Texas, then you are never far from an 18-wheeler. The dangers of being in a wreck with big trucks and 18-wheelers are serious, yet big trucks and 18-wheelers like this are an important part of our economy. For this reason, both federal and state regulations provide the minimum safety rules big trucks and 18-wheelers are required to follow before, during and after operating on Texas highways/roadways. In this blog we will cover the most common causes of big truck wrecks and 18-wheeler wrecks in Texas.
What are the top causes of big truck wrecks in Texas?
It may not come as a surprise that the majority of big truck and18-wheeler wrecks are not the sort of wrecks where those involved walk away sustaining little to no injury. Many big truck and 18-wheeler wrecks that occur are caused by entirely preventable causes, including:
- Distracted Driving – Distracted driving is a major cause of big truck wrecks in Texas. Whether the distraction is from talking on a cell phone, texting, streaming a movie/TV show and/or video while driving, or the form of a different distraction, any distraction that takes a big truck driver’s eyes and/or attention off the roadway is a serious hazard to the other motorists on the road.
- Improperly trained/unqualified driver – While state and federal minimum safety rules require that big truck companies ensure that the drivers they employ are qualified and properly trained, many big truck companies cut corners on driver qualifications and/or training and put unsafe and unqualified drivers on the road.
- Truck driver fatigue – This occurs when the truck driver is tired, and typically while working longer hours than legally allowed. State and federal minimum safety rules limit the number of hours a driver can be on duty in a day, and a week; however, these limits are often violated by big truck companies and their drivers.
- Aggressive Driving/Speeding/Failure to Yield Right of Way/Failure to Keep A Safe Following Distance – Aggressive and unsafe driving choices like failing to yield the right of way, ignoring traffic lights and signs, failing to maintain a single lane, following too closely, and passing illegally are all dangerous choices made by big truck and 18-wheeler drivers daily and are extremely dangerous to other motorists on the road. This is a significant factor in traffic wrecks across the United States, and particularly in Texas.
- Failure to adhere to minimum safety rules – Truck drivers and their employers must follow a minimum set of safety rules designed to keep themselves and other motorists around them safe. Failure to follow these minimum safety rules leads to dangerous conditions for the driver and other motorists on the road.
- Driving under the influence – Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is still a major cause of wrecks, despite the fact that some big truck and 18-wheelers drivers undergo random drug testing and medical exams.
- Failure to properly load or secure cargo – If the driver does not follow the minimum safety rules when securing or loading cargo, this can cause an unequal distribution of weight and/or a shift in weight which makes it more likely for a wreck to occur.
- Driving in adverse weather conditions – The minimum safety rules require big truck drivers to alter their driving (and/or get off the road) when they are faced with adverse weather conditions. The reason is that these big trucks take much longer to stop than normal passenger vehicles. Driving in conditions with poor visibility/traction due to fog, rain, sleet, ice, snow, or smoke, among other adverse weather conditions, greatly increases a big truck driver’s chances of causing a wreck.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,761 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks (defined as trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds) in 2017.
When people refer to ‘truck wrecks’, they are referring to crashes involving big commercial trucks. The trucks that fall into this category include:
- Oil and gas trucks
- Dump trucks
- Delivery trucks
- Tractor trailers
- Box trucks
- Tow trucks
- Refrigerated trucks
If you or a loved one has been involved in a crash with a big truck, it is crucial that you get in touch with an experienced and trusted attorney that knows Texas laws, national trucking laws, and can help get you the care and fair compensation you and/or your family deserve. The Texas truck wreck attorneys at Sloan Firm have years of experience working big truck wreck cases throughout Texas and New Mexico. Contact our big truck wreck attorneys at Sloan Firm today, with offices in Longview, Houston, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.