It’s an all too familiar sight for drivers along U.S. 285 in Reeves County - twisted big rigs, mangled passenger cars and ambulances rushing through traffic to help the victims. But why is this stretch of highway such a magnet for catastrophic accidents?View Accidents Map
Reeves County, Texas, has been listed as one of the most dangerous places to drive in the country, ranking No. 6 nationwide in a 20-year analysis released by the Auto Insurance Center in 2016. This is likely largely due to the frighteningly high number of truck crashes on U.S. 285 stretching north and south from Pecos.
Although oil production is an economic boost for the area, the business also brings a massive increase in traffic on the highway, leading to a host of crash factors.
With the increased oil field traffic comes a large number of heavy trucks on U.S. 285, rushing to get to deliveries on time, turning in and out of heavy traffic, and taking a toll on the roadway.
As crews try to repair deteriorating sections and widen areas of the highway, drivers face changing speed limits, width restrictions, traffic pattern changes, temporary signals, and workers on the road
Although every truck crash that occurs on U.S. 285 in Reeves County has unique circumstances, there are some common factors that lead to such accidents. In many cases, driver recklessness or negligence on the part of the trucking company are to blame. In other cases, the government entity or contractor responsible for maintaining the roadway may be at fault. Only a thorough investigation can uncover all the factors in a catastrophic truck crash.
Truck drivers may be distracted by talking on cellphones, texting, eating and drinking, listening to music, or any other activity that takes their minds off the road. Any driver who is distracted can be dangerous, but truckers are operating 80,000-pound vehicles that can cause extreme damages.
Potholes, deteriorating shoulders, debris in the road and other dangerous conditions can cause a truck driver to lose control of the vehicle and result in a serious collision or pile-up.
Truckers who drive under the influence pose a serious threat to everyone on the road. Alcohol, illegal drugs and prescription medications can all cause severe impairments.
Truck drivers are typically paid by the mile, which means the faster they can get to a destination, the more money they can make. Drivers also must watch out for changes in speed limits on 285 due to construction work, as well as potentially dangerous road conditions that require them to slow down.
Whenever you’re on a heavily trafficked road like Highway 285, it is crucial to stay alert to the risks posed by large trucks. Remember that it takes trucks longer to speed up and slow down. So take extra precautions when you see one pull onto the road in front of you, and never try to cut in front of a truck that’s braking. Also, be aware of truck driver’s blind spots as they try to turn or change lanes. Heed the common warning: “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.”
There are several measures that could be taken - or are already under way - to improve safety on U.S. 285. Experts have pointed to the need for wider shoulders along the highway and passing lanes, as well as turning lanes at important intersections. Other safety precautions include stepped up law enforcement presence and increased driver education to encourage safe driving along the highway.
Although weather conditions such as rain and blowing sand or snow can be factors in crashes, the majority of truck accidents on U.S. 285 in Reeves County happened on clear days.
In Reeves County, the first day of the workweek proved the most dangerous on U.S. 285, with 46 crashes occurring on Mondays from 2015 to 2018.
The afternoon/evening hours of 3 and 6 p.m. accounted for the most crashes, with 46 crashes total during those times on U.S. 285 in Reeves County from 2015 to 2018.
Truck accidents accounted for 112 injuries along the local stretch of U.S. 285 from 2015 to 2018, with 30 people injured so far this year.
Crashes involving large trucks on U.S. 285 in Reeves County took 15 lives from 2015 to 2018, with six people killed in the first six months of 2018.
The section of 285 that runs through Reeves County is 79 miles long. With 61 truck crashes so far in 2018, that’s almost one truck crash for every mile of highway.
"Anytime you get more activity and more land miles, just through natural inclination you are going to get more crashes out there." James Beauchamp
President of MOTRAN
In order to obtain a commercial driver’s license in Texas, a person must pass a vision test, knowledge tests and driving tests. The knowledge exams include portions on Texas commercial rules, general knowledge, combination, air brake, and endorsements. The driving tests include vehicle inspection, basic vehicle control, and a road test. Drivers must also answer questions about their medical history.
The best way to report a complaint about a dangerous truck driver (other than calling 911 in an emergency) is to contact the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. You can fill out a complaint online or call 1-888-368-7238.
You can make a complaint about potholes, pavement condition, maintenance, lighting issues, drainage, road debris, intersection safety and many other problems through the Texas Department of Transportation website.
If you’ve been injured in a truck crash on U.S. 285, you may have a right to compensation for your past and future medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, and pain and suffering. You need to speak with a knowledgeable Texas truck accident attorney about the specifics of your case as soon as possible.