Driving next to an 18-wheeler is a daily occurrence for most Houstonians, as there are hundreds of semis on our highways at any given time. While they are essential to moving goods across the country, 18-wheeler accidents have been on the rise over the past few years, resulting in serious injuries and deaths. On average, there are at least 500,000 semi-truck related accidents each year in the United States. Just last month in Houston on I-10, there was a fatal accident involving an 18-wheeler that flipped onto an exit ramp and burst into flames. The exit ramp on I-10 East westbound at the Eastex freeway was closed for hours and only opened once the wreckage was cleared. Big rig accidents like these can cause serious damage to other vehicles as well as to roadway infrastructure. Unfortunately, Texas 18-wheeler accidents do not seem to be slowing down and Texas drivers and passengers will be the ones to pay the price.
18-Wheeler Accident Statistics
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the number of trucks and buses involved in fatal accidents increased by 42 percent between 2009 and 2017; however, semi-trucks are not just involved in fatal accidents. Research has shown that the number of 18-wheeler accidents that resulted in injuries increased 62 percent between 2009 and 2017. The majority, approximately 68 percent, of 18-wheeler accidents take place in rural areas on interstate roads and highways. Many rural areas have long, straight roads and highways that provide a false sense of safety, leading to distractions and more relaxed driving which can quickly lead to accidents if a truck driver is not ready to react to a deer jumping out in the road or a large pothole ahead.
While many people believe nighttime driving is dangerous for truckers, most 18-wheeler accidents – up to 68 percent – actually occur during the day. The truth is, at night there are fewer passenger vehicles on the roads which makes driving at night a bit more pleasant for truck drivers. In the United States, most 18-wheeler accidents occur between 6:00 AM and 3:00 PM, when there is a good amount of car traffic on the highways. Texans are very familiar with traffic and the next statistic should come as no surprise – Texas reports the greatest number of accidents involving 18-wheelers of any state in the United States. The rate of truck-related accidents in Texas is 137 percent higher than California, one of its closest competitors.
What Causes 18-Wheeler Accidents in Texas?
There are many factors to take into account when it comes to Texas 18-wheeler accidents. Many crashes are caused by truck driver negligence and:
- A truck driver may be driving while distracted by a cell phone, loud music, radio, eating or drinking, or many other forms of distraction that take their attention away from the road.
- Some truck drivers, under pressure from an employer or a deadline, will drive while fatigued to try to make up time and get their cargo delivered as quickly as possible. Driving while fatigued, just like driving while intoxicated, slows down reaction time and can cause a truck driver to pass out or fall asleep. This quickly leads to serious, possibly fatal, accidents.
- An 18-wheeler itself is often the cause of serious accidents, as the truck can malfunction, have defective parts, or even have unsecured cargo that can fall off a trailer.
- Dangerous weather and roads that have not been maintained often contribute to 18-wheeler accidents in Texas.
- Potholes and other road defects can easily cause tire blowouts or trailer tip-overs. Large trucks are much more difficult to maneuver in unsafe conditions and truck drivers must be constantly aware of their surroundings to avoid dangerous situations.
What Makes 18-Wheeler Accidents Different from Car Accidents?
18-wheelers are much larger than passenger vehicles and therefore can do much more damage in a collision. The chances of surviving an impact with a large semi-truck are considerably lower than the chances of surviving an impact with another passenger vehicle. Truck accidents are much more violent when compared to car accidents given the considerable differences in terms of a truck’s mass, velocity, and general size.
In a car accident, the parties involved are generally passenger vehicle drivers that hit each other. Establishing liability comes down to which driver is at fault and if they have insurance to pay the wronged party. There may be a dispute between the insurance company and the injured party requiring legal representation to prove who was liable in order to receive compensation.
In an 18-wheeler accident, liability must also be established, but the parties involved are businesses with commercial insurance policies. Commercial truck drivers and trucking companies operating in Texas must comply with all FMCSA regulations as well as Texas state law, including the Texas Transportation Code. If a truck driver or trucking company violates those laws and causes an accident, it can make proving liability easier for the injured party; however, trucking companies have teams of high-powered lawyers on call and ready to defend them against any and all claims. There are often multiple parties liable for an 18-wheeler accident that are not involved in passenger vehicle crashes. Not only is a truck driver potentially liable, a trucking company, cargo company, and the manufacturer of the semi-truck are just a few of the parties that may be at fault depending on the circumstances of each big rig collision.
Accidents involving large trucks usually cause serious damage; and, as a result, insurers are reluctant to pay damages without putting up a fight. Having an experienced Texas personal injury attorney on your side will be critical to a favorable outcome if you have been injured in an 18-wheeler accident. When an accident involving a large commercial truck occurs, it is crucial to contact the legal team at J.D. Silva & Associates right away. Not only are there rules governing how long after an accident you can bring a lawsuit, but it is also critical to preserve evidence. Insurance carriers and trucking companies have teams of attorneys ready to protect their bottom lines. The Texas 18-wheeler accident attorneys of J.D. Silva & Associates are ready to work for you and offer you the best protection against these powerful forces, so contact us today for a free consultation.