What Are the Top Causes of Truck Accidents?
Trucking accidents can easily result in catastrophic injuries and wrongful death to motor vehicle drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. The sheer weight and volume of commercial trucks make them a significant threat to others on the roadway. In 2015, there were approximately 415,000 accidents involving large trucks – including 83,000 injury crashes and 3,598 fatal ones. Texas sees thousands of big rigs on its major highways every day. Learning the top causes of truck accidents can help you prevent and avoid them as you travel the highways and rural streets of the Lone Star State.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Truck drivers must handle long hours of isolation on drives, as well as pressure and stress from employers, lost time with loved ones, and often health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and sleep apnea. A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 69% of truck driver respondents were obese and 17% were morbidly obese. Unhealthy diets and lack of exercise on the road can contribute to trucker obesity, which can, in turn, cause diabetes and a number of other health problems.
Dealing with myriad physical, emotional, and mental health problems and job-related stress can get the better of some truckers who turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. Despite the legal blood alcohol concentration maximum being 0.04% for commercial drivers in Texas, hundreds of truckers get behind the wheel with more than double this amount of alcohol and/or drugs in their systems. Driving under the influence (DUI) as a trucker endangers the lives of everyone else on the roadway; these larger vehicles can crush or completely obliterate smaller cars.
Despite the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) hours of service regulations for commercial truckers, many exceed the 11-hour driving limit to meet a deadline. Other truckers have trouble sleeping irregular hours or suffer from sleep apnea and must return to their shifts without a proper eight hours of rest. Trucking companies and fleet managers may pressure drivers to meet unreasonable timelines or engage in unsafe practices such as offering bonuses to drivers who beat deadlines. These situations can lead to drowsy truck drivers who cannot properly react to changing roadway conditions or who fall asleep behind the wheel.
Distracted and Negligent Truck Drivers
Like all drivers, truckers can make mistakes behind the wheel. When a trucker drives negligently, however, he or she can cause more harm to victims than smaller passenger vehicle drivers. In 2010, the FMCSA enacted a federal rule that bans commercial drivers from texting while driving. Failure to obey this law can result in hefty fines and driver disqualification. It can also place other drivers at risk. The odds of a commercial driver crashing increases 23.3 times for those who text and drive compared to those who do not.
Other Causes of Trucking Accidents
Aside from truck driver error, there are several other factors that commonly contribute to trucking accidents in Texas. Passenger vehicle drivers may fail to pay attention on the highway or engage in dangerous driving behaviors, causing collisions. In other cases, trucking maintenance crews may be responsible for causing an accident by failing to properly maintain a rig. Truck loaders may have improperly added cargo to the bed of the truck, resulting in harmful spills on the highway. A truck part manufacturer may have made an error on the production line, resulting in faulty brakes that cause a crash.
There are many things that can cause a deadly truck accident in Texas. Regardless of what you believe caused your crash, don’t hesitate to speak to an Austin truck accident lawyer about your case. You may be eligible to receive compensation, even if you were partially responsible for causing the collision.