Every day we share our roads with large commercial trucks. Houston is a hub for trucks that deliver goods across the country. Large trucks have a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds or more, as defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Many large 18-wheelers weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when filled with cargo, and easily outweigh passenger cars by 30 times. Large trucks are involved in an average of over 500,000 accidents a year across the country. Many of these accidents result in serious injuries or fatalities.
Many factors make big rigs dangerous to other drivers on the road. Trucks weigh much more than passenger vehicles, which makes braking slow. It may take 20 to 40 times longer for a big truck to come to a stop than a typical car. Large trucks cannot maneuver like smaller vehicles, and they have blind spots, even when they utilize mirrors. Drivers often work for many hours and drive long distances at a time, causing potential fatigue.
Fatigue can slow a driver’s response time considerably. Inexperienced drivers may have difficulty controlling a big loaded rig. Shifting cargo can make it impossible for a driver to stop a big rig from an accident. Some trucks carry hazardous materials that can spill or leak in an accident, creating a dangerous situation. Drivers that make mistakes or have judgment errors on the road can cause chain-reaction accidents.
There may be multiple causes and contributing factors in large truck accidents. There are three main categories of accident causes, including human error, mechanical failure, and external conditions. The most common causes of accidents are human errors. These include such things as improper lane changes, speeding, tailgating, failure to yield, distracted driving, and impairment. Of these, distracted driving is one of the most common factors that contribute to all accidents, including big rig crashes.
Distracted driving consists of a variety of actions such as eating or drinking, cell phone use, texting, and others. Truck drivers may be susceptible to distracted driving, especially when they travel for long periods on large highways. Drivers must adhere to laws that limit them to 11 hours of driving at a time. Mechanical failures can cause semi-truck crashes. The most common mechanical failures are brake malfunctions and tire blowouts. Road conditions such as heavy rain, fog, and road debris may make it more challenging to maneuver on the highway. Truck drivers must be especially careful to drive defensively and pay attention to other drivers and issues that could cause accidents.
Accidents with big rigs often result in severe injuries to the other drivers and passengers. Some of the most common injuries include traumatic brain injuries, head and back injuries, whiplash, broken bones, cuts and bruises, burns, and puncture wounds. Some severe injuries may be life-threatening, and the recovery may be lengthy and painful. The driver or trucking company may be found negligent in causing the accident. If you were hurt due to the negligence of another, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries. You may be owed money for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
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