Texas & New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyers

Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Texas

Trucks are a common sight on Texas roads. Drivers and pedestrians alike share road space with delivery trucks, semi-trucks, and construction vehicles. Because trucks are so much larger and heavier, averaging 20-30 times the weight of typical passenger vehicles, truck-involved accidents produce extremely serious injuries and fatalities.

Victims of truck accidents in Texas suffer physically, emotionally, and financially. They are not without recourse, though. Whatever the cause of the accident, the truck accident attorneys at Farah Law can help victims secure the compensation they need for recovery.

Truck Accident Statistics

For the most recent full year of truck accident data collection available, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports:

  • 4,147 fatalities: 16% were truck occupants, 68% were passenger vehicle occupants, and 15% were cyclists, motorcyclists, or pedestrians
  • Accidents occurred on all types of roads: interstates and highways, other major roads, and minor roads
  • 11% of all motor vehicle crashes involved large trucks
  • 74% of fatalities involved tractor-trailers, 27% involved single-unit trucks, and 1% involved “unknown” types of trucks

Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Texas

While a truck accident can happen for a variety of reasons, there are some causes more common than others, such as those discussed below.

Driver Fatigue

Should a truck operator nod off or lose alertness even for a moment, the results can be deadly. It is easy to see how the long, monotonous hours behind the wheel create both physical and mental driver fatigue.

To combat accident-causing driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the number of consecutive hours and days a trucker can be on duty and mandatory rest periods. Operators must log their hours, and companies need to ensure their drivers’ compliance.

Even so, competition among delivery services and suppliers puts pressure on drivers to carry more cargo and deliver it faster. Companies are often complicit in adding this pressure.

Driver Error or Negligence

Less experienced truck drivers are more likely to commit driving errors, but even seasoned operators can make mistakes. Whether zoning out and missing a traffic signal or failing to signal when changing lanes, driver error can lead to deadly outcomes.

Negligent drivers may speed, make reckless maneuvers, or drive while intoxicated. In Texas, passenger vehicle drivers 21 years of age or older are considered driving under the influence (DUI) when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or higher. For drivers of commercial vehicles, the standard is higher, and drivers can be charged with drunk driving with a BAC of .04% or higher.

Along with stricter BAC limits, FMCSA regulations prohibit truck drivers from consuming alcohol within four hours of driving and from driving while under the effects of any other substances, prescribed, controlled, or illegal.

Overloaded Cargo

If trucks are loaded with too much cargo, the vehicle’s system experiences dangerous pressure. Braking systems for a specific truck, for example, function under that truck’s maximum weight limit. Overloads can cause the braking system to fail.

Improperly secured loads are also hazardous. FMCSA regulations require the use of proper restraints for different kinds and amounts of cargo and prescribe how those restraints are attached and implemented. Loads not secured correctly can experience shifts, putting the truck off balance or causing cargo to become loose, flying into other vehicles or the roadway.

Company Negligence

Truck companies must ensure vehicle maintenance, vet, train, and evaluate their drivers, and promote safe practices. Companies, whether because of disorganization or to save money, may fail in these responsibilities. When they do, they create opportunities for disastrous accidents.

Vehicle Malfunction

Proper vehicle functioning is a critical element of truck safety. The FMCSA has specific requirements regarding daily truck inspections, as carried out and reported pre- and post-rides by drivers, truck maintenance, and comprehensive inspections, which must occur yearly, at minimum.

Trucks have complex systems for steering, braking, loading, dumping, and other tasks, depending on the vehicle’s purpose. Semi-trucks also have coupling systems connecting trailers to cabs. When any of these systems fail, serious accidents are essentially unavoidable.

Bad Road Conditions

When roads are not properly maintained, they may be filled with potholes or covered in loose gravel or chunks of pavement. Trucks can experience blowouts or skid outs, either of which can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Roads with faded traffic lanes can also cause confusion among drivers and cause collisions, especially in areas where roads narrow and vehicles must merge.

Dangerous Weather

Dangerous weather increases dangers for all motorists, but especially heavy trucks. Roads slick from rain or ice can make stopping these massive vehicles more difficult. Trucks can easily careen out of control, taking out whatever cars, pedestrians, or other obstacles are in their path. Precipitation can reduce visibility, making it even more difficult for truck operators to see nearby passenger vehicles or pedestrians.

High winds also pose a danger, as they can threaten the balance of a trailer or loosen cargo, sending it flying into other cars or onto roadways.

The FMCSA recognizes the impact of weather on truck safety, requiring drivers to reduce speed or take their vehicles entirely off the road until conditions become safer.

How A Texas Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help

Whether your loved one is killed or you survive a Texas truck accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can fight for a substantial settlement and / or litigate your case in court so you can obtain the compensation needed to cover your losses and get justice.

A fair settlement or jury verdict will cover your extensive medical bills and future medical care, income loss – including lost future earnings if you are out of work permanently, property damage, and any other accident-related expenses. Further, your settlement will acknowledge your suffering, both physical and psychological, and diminished quality of life. If your loved one dies, a wrongful death settlement can also cover death expenses and loss of relationship, among other additional damages.

Truck accident victims are often eligible to pursue punitive damages. These damages are not compensatory but serve to punish the party responsible for your accident for their egregious negligence.

We Are on Your Side

Your life and your rights are the priority at Farah Law. Our attorneys work diligently to protect your rights following a truck accident injury and get you the compensation you need to support your recovery, regain financial stability, and improve your quality of life overall. The truck accident lawyers at Farah Law have over four decades of experience and have recovered millions for our clients. Contact us to start moving toward justice today.