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Major Causes of Trucking Accidents in Texas

Truck accidents are a major concern across the United States, but especially in Texas which sees high volumes of commercial truck traffic on its expansive highway system. While most truck drivers are safe, attentive and follow the rules of the road, truck crashes still occur far too often on Texas highways and roads. These accidents frequently result in catastrophic injuries and death.

If you or a loved one has been harmed in a truck accident in Texas, it’s important to understand what may have caused the collision in order to determine if negligence was involved. An experienced Texas truck accident attorney can help investigate all aspects of your crash to build a strong case for compensation. Below are the major causes of trucking accidents in Texas.

Driver Fatigue

One of the most prevalent factors in truck crashes nationwide is driver fatigue. Truckers often drive long hours and may not get adequate rest between shifts. The federal hours of service regulations limit drivers to 11 hours of driving in a 14-hour period, after which they must take a mandatory 10-hour break.

However, these rules are often stretched to the limit or even broken. Drowsy driving impairs reaction times, attention and decision-making. Microsleeps where the driver nods off for a few seconds are also common with fatigued truckers. These brief lapses can easily lead to a catastrophic collision at highway speeds.

Speeding

Excess speed is an obvious danger for 80,000-pound big rigs sharing the road with smaller passenger vehicles. Texas has some of the highest speed limits in the country, with sections of I-10 and I-20 permitting speeds up to 85 mph. Even lower posted limits can be unsafe for truckers if traffic, road conditions or weather are not ideal.

Speeding reduces a truck driver’s ability to slow down or stop in an emergency. It also decreases stability and control, raises the risk of rollovers on curves and increases the violence of impact in a crash. Speeding to meet delivery deadlines is never an excuse for unsafe driving.

Distracted Driving

Like all motorists, truckers face distractions that take their eyes and attention off the road. Texting or talking on a cell phone while driving is especially hazardous in a big rig. Truckers may also fiddle with GPS devices, look at maps, eat, read paperwork or even watch TV or movies while driving.

Reaching for fallen objects in the cab can also cause distraction. Trucking companies that pressure drivers to maximize driving time instead of taking adequate breaks also contribute to unsafe, distracted driving. Strict policies prohibiting distracted driving are needed.

Impaired Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is always dangerous. Impairment is even more hazardous for truck drivers handling extremely large, heavy vehicles. Yet truckers still get arrested for DUI and some drive under the influence of prescription opioids or amphetamines to stay alert.

Trucking companies are required to drug test drivers periodically and after accidents. However, some truckers find ways to beat these tests. Strict zero-tolerance policies, frequent random testing and investigative procedures following crashes can help identify impaired truck driving.

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving behaviors like tailgating, unsafe lane changes, failure to signal turns or merges and frequent speed fluctuations are risky for all drivers. These actions become even more dangerous when truckers engage in them. Yet road rage, impatience and pressure to meet delivery times can lead to aggressive truck driving.

Attempting to pass slower traffic on two-lane roads unsafely is also common. Car drivers should avoid provoking truckers by cutting them off or braking suddenly. Defensive driving is key to preventing aggressive driving accidents.

Poor Truck Maintenance

The complex components of tractor-trailers require diligent maintenance and repair to operate safely. Worn tires, defective brakes, bald treads, broken lights and leaking or damaged parts can lead to catastrophic truck crashes if not addressed. Some companies and independent truckers intentionally skirt maintenance to save money, putting everyone at risk.

Thorough pre-trip inspections, repairing issues promptly and following recommended maintenance schedules are vital. Government truck inspections and enforcement of regulations also help identify and remove unsafe trucks from the roads.

Jackknifing

A jackknife accident involves the tractor skidding and folding up against the trailer, forming a jackknife shape. This often occurs when braking hard on slippery roads, causing loss of control. Going too fast for conditions or improperly balanced loads can increase jackknifing risk. Blind spots make it difficult for truckers to see how close following traffic is, increasing multi-vehicle collision risk if a jackknife occurs.

Rollover Crashes

The high center of gravity of loaded tractor-trailers makes them more susceptible to rollovers, especially at high speeds. Taking curves too quickly, abrupt steering maneuvers, uneven road surfaces and unstable loads can all trigger rollovers. Texas has seen some very serious truck rollover incidents along major highways and interstates. Many single-vehicle truck rollovers can be prevented with safe driving.

Hazardous Loads

Trucks carrying volatile fuels, chemicals, combustibles and other hazardous materials raise the stakes if an accident occurs. Toxic substance release, explosions and fires can harm many people beyond those directly involved in the crash. Special certification and placarding is required for these loads. While not a common cause of accidents, the potential severity justifies increased safety measures for such loads.

Driver Inexperience

The trucking industry suffers from high turnover rates and a shortage of qualified drivers. Some companies hire inexperienced drivers or provide inadequate training. Ongoing mentorship, extensive training mile minimums and better pay and working conditions would help attract and retain skilled, safe truckers. Screening out drivers with poor driving records also keeps inexperienced and high-risk truckers off the road.

Take Action After a Truck Accident in Texas

If you or someone you love has been harmed in a truck crash, you will likely face significant medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering. Holding any negligent parties accountable is crucial. An experienced truck accident lawyer Texas can protect your rights and seek maximum compensation through insurance claims or personal injury lawsuits.

Contact Karns & Karns Personal Injury and Accident Attorneys today at (800) 4-THEWIN for a free consultation if you or a loved one has been harmed in a truck crash. Consultations are always free, and we work on a contingency basis, with nothing to pay unless you win. Our skilled trucking accident attorneys are committed to achieving the maximum compensation you deserve.