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18-Wheeler Accident Cases in Houston, Texas
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What are the Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents?
Drivers of 18-wheelers are governed by special rules and regulations for commercial vehicles. They also have the same legal obligation as other drivers to drive carefully. Sometimes a trucking company's poor maintenance or a truck or tire defect might lead to an accident. Other times, motor vehicle drivers cut semi-trucks off and cause accidents. Yet, many 18-wheeler accidents are caused by negligent semi-drivers who violate traffic violations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports the following common traffic law violations as causes of trucking accidents:
- Distracted driving is any activity that takes attention away from driving. This might include adjusting the radio, programming a GPS, eating, and more. These things are not strictly illegal, but federal law prohibits commercial drivers from using a cell phone. Semi drivers may push one button to start or end a call, but they must use a hands-free fèaturc to talk. Truck drivers who text while driving are violating federal and Texas state law.
- Driving under the influence is something that the average person hopes an 18-wheeler driver does not do. Unfortunately, studies show that alcohol and drug use among truck drivers remains common because of long work days and tough conditions. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that 13 percent of truck drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2016 had drugs in their system. More than one out of five had a blood alcohol content higher than 0.08, and the legal limit for 1 8-wheeler drivers is 0.04. Drugs and alcohol impair a driver's ability to react to hazards and judge time and distance, often resulting in serious or fatal accidents.
- Speeding may not always cause an accident, but it remains the most common factor associated with fatal semi-truck accidents. Out of all the fatal large truck accidents in the United States in 2016, about a third of drivers were speeding. Semi-trucks, depending on how much their load weighs, are between 20 and 30 times heavier than the average car. When 18-wheeler drivers go too fast, especially in inclement weather, the driver has difficulty stopping or making adjustments for dangers on the road.
- Failure to yield also makes it difficult for 18-wheeler drivers to stop quickly when they notice another motor vehicle. Sometimes they may not see the other vehicle. Failure to yield often coincides with distracted driving, but it is also a result of truck drivers who are laser focused on their schedule and getting to their destination, instead of paying attention to the road.
- Failure to obey signals is another traffic violation that often is a result of distracted driving. Most drivers, car, truck, or otherwise, do not intentionally disobey traffic signals and stop signs. Yet, if they are distracted and focused on other things, it is easy to miss a signal or stop sign. When cars strike an 18-wheeler that has run a traffic signal, they are at risk for an under-ride accident which happens when the car gets stuck under the truck. Under-ride accidents typically result in catastrophic injuries and are often fatal.
- Tailgating often occurs because truck drivers are in a hurry to get to their destination. Driving safely behind another vehicle involves leaving a two-second gap. The mass of an 18-wheeler requires extra space to slow down. The FMSCA recommends that tractor/trailer drivers leave a four to five second gap depending on how fast they are traveling. When driving in rain and snow, drivers need to leave at least eight seconds between them and the car in front of them. When an 18-wheeler driver follows too closely they risk serious accidents that might include totaling the car in front of them.
What are Injuries that Result from 18-Wheeler Accidents
Injuries sustained in an 18-wheeler truck accident are not much different than those sustained in other types of motor vehicle accidents, except the weight and force of a truck makes injuries far more severe and more likely to be fatal. Some common injuries that might occur in a truck accident include:
- Fractured and crushed bones
- Deep lacerations that might leave scars
- Head injuries that might include blunt force trauma to the head and/or traumatic brain injuries
- Neck injuries including whiplash
- Back and spinal cord injuries that might lead to temporary or permanent paralysis
- Organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Loss of limbs
- Burns that might lead to scarring in the event of an explosion or fire
When 18 wheeler accidents occur they devastate victims and their families because of the large scale damage and server injuries that frequently result. These accidents can be challenging to all involved because of the complexity, and the victims typically can have a long recovery time, if they recover at all.
If you or a loved one that has been injured in an 18 wheeler accident contact The Law Office of Fuller and Hudson in Houston, TX at (713) 439-7400 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case. Let our skilled staff begin working on your case as soon as possible, so the two-year statute of limitations to take legal action under Texas law does not run out.