Texas Law Requires Truck Drivers to Maintain a “Proper Lookout” on the Roads

truck driverCommercial truck drivers are in many cases held to a higher standard than everyday motor vehicle drivers because of the greater potential for damage a negligently operated truck can cause when compared to a car. The size, speed, and weight of an 18-wheeler or other large commercial vehicle require commercial driver’s license holders to use the utmost care and judgment while operating these massive vehicles. Although state and federal regulations impose certain duties on truck drivers and establish the standard of care that they owe to other drivers on the road, commercial drivers frequently fail to meet those standards. Negligent truck driving comes in many forms, one of which is failure to maintain a proper lookout for other drivers. If they are not paying careful attention and looking out for you that can extend their already long stopping distance.

How Long Does it Take for an 18 Wheeler to Stop?

Do you know how long it takes an 18 wheeler traveling at the 55 mile per hour speed limit to bring his truck to a stop when he recognizes the need to stop? Watch this video to learn more.

A truck traveling at 55 mile per hour takes 600 yards to stop.  Imagine what happens if he is not paying attention his stopping distance is further delayed.

Proper Lookout Standard

Texas courts have developed what is known as the “proper lookout” standard when determining whether a commercial truck driver is negligent. Proper lookout refers to the duty to observe the surrounding traffic and general situation on the roadway, and the duty to take necessary precautions to avoid an accident. Simply put, a truck driver is required to pay attention to the road and other drivers to avoid an accident. Whether it be blowing past a stop sign, running a red light, or switching lanes without checking the mirrors, a truck driver’s failure to maintain proper lookout qualifies as negligence.

Proper lookout is required by all drivers on our roads, but truck drivers must be especially vigilant because of the damage a truck can cause. According to the Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Handbook, a truck driver is required to look 12 to 15 seconds ahead of their vehicle to makes sure there are no hazards in the roadway, check and re-check side mirrors and the truck’s blind spot after putting on the truck’s signaling device before making a lane change, and be generally aware of what is going on around them to avoid an accident. Failure to exercise this heightened duty of care when operating an 18-wheeler or other commercial vehicle puts other vehicles at risk and increases the likelihood of an accident.

Other common causes of truck drivers failing to keep a proper lookout include: drowsy driving, texting or other use of a cell phone while driving, changing the radio, and eating while driving.

Contact Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., Today

Commercial truck drivers must be observant and careful of what’s going on around them on the roads in order to avoid causing an accident. If you are a victim of an accident caused by a commercial truck driver that failed to pay attention to the surroundings, please contact us for a free consultation with no obligation. It is critical that the investigation into an accident involving a negligent truck driver begin as soon as possible to determine the full extent of the role failure to maintain proper lookout had in causing your accident.


Paul Cannon