Each year, thousands of automobile occupants are injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents involving a large truck, an 18-wheeler, or another commercial vehicle. While the average car weighs somewhere around 4,000 pounds, an 18-wheeler can weigh anywhere from 35,000 to 80,000 pounds. Because of the massive size difference between a car and a commercial truck, trucking accidents can cause significantly more property damage and severe injuries than an accident between two cars. If you were injured in a truck accident and you believe another driver’s negligence was involved, it may be in your best interests to consult with a truck accident attorney at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C.
Are 18 Wheeler Accidents Common in Houston?
Texas had the highest number of fatal crashes involving large trucks, the highest number of vehicle occupants killed in a truck-involved accident, and the highest number of non-occupants killed in trucking collisions. (See National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Traffic Safety Data) Texas has over 3,200 miles of highway and a large number of trucks and big rigs due to the State’s oil and gas industries, but driver negligence is one of the leading causes of truck accidents in Texas.
What Are Common Causes of 18 Wheeler Accidents in Houston?
Trucking accidents can be caused by many different factors, including:
- Inclement weather: Poor weather conditions, including rain, snow, fog, and sleet, may increase the risk of truck accidents by creating slippery roads and poor visibility. Commercial truckers with less experience may be more prone to the effects of adverse weather.
- Poor road conditions: Defects in the road, like potholes, large cracks, and debris, can cause a truck driver to lose control of their vehicle. Certain conditions can cause a commercial truck to jackknife, resulting in pile-up collisions or accidents involving multiple vehicles.
- Vehicle defects: Commercial trucks and tractor-trailers carry heavy cargo loads and travel long distances, so proper maintenance is vital to prevent equipment malfunctions that could lead to an otherwise avoidable truck accident.
- Insufficient driver training: Operating a commercial vehicle requires training and experience. Due to the driver shortage, trucking companies may hire younger, less experienced drivers who may not know how to react to certain situations on the road. Some employers may also fail to adequately train their drivers, resulting in a distribution team that is unprepared for the dangers of operating a commercial truck.
- Impaired or drowsy driving: A recent shortage of truck drivers and deadlines imposed by unscrupulous distribution companies have some drivers working longer hours and taking fewer breaks. A tired driver who is overworked may be less alert, more easily distracted, and more likely to fall asleep at the wheel. Commercial drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol are also more likely to cause a trucking accident, with impaired drivers having slower reaction times and reduced motor skills.
- Improperly loaded cargo: Large trucks like 18-wheelers have loading protocols that must be followed to reduce the chance of the truck tipping or of the driver losing control. The companies responsible for loading the cargo could face civil liability in the event of a truck accident caused by improperly loaded cargo.
How Can I Avoid Getting Into an Accident With an 18 Wheeler?
Even if you exercise caution you cannot control the actions of others on the road. However, there are things you can do to help reduce the likelihood of getting in an accident with a commercial vehicle in Houston.
Motorists should avoid a truck’s blind spots and always give trucks more space than other cars. Remember that truck drivers cannot always react as quickly as someone driving a passenger vehicle, so use caution when passing and avoid passing a truck when going up or down a hill.