When a commercial truck is involved in an accident, the outcome can be deadly. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 3,163 people died in large truck crashes in 2009, and the PRNewswire reported in February 2011 that commercial truck accidents are on the rise, after over 5,000 people died in large truck crashes in 2010, a 158 percent increase from the previous year. According to a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published in 2007, 88 percent of large truck crashes are caused by driver error by either the trucker or other driver. If you have been involved in a commercial truck accident, a qualified Houston injury attorney can help you understand your legal rights.
How to Minimize Your Risk of Being Involved in a Commercial Truck Accident
While it is easy to assume that commercial truck accidents are always the fault of the trucker, passenger vehicle drivers frequently commit driving errors when it comes to sharing the road with large trucks. Avoiding the following mistakes when operating a passenger vehicle can minimize your chances of being involved in a commercial truck accident:
- Driving behind or beside a commercial truck in the area known as the “blind spot” or “no-zone,” where the truck driver has limited or no visibility.
- Abruptly changing lanes in front of a truck, also known as cutting off.
- Positioning one’s vehicle to the right of a truck when it is making a right turn.
- Turning too close in front of an approaching truck.
- Merging improperly or passing in an unsafe manner.
- Driving between large trucks.
- Leaving a disabled vehicle on a roadway.
- Drinking and driving.
When the Truck Driver is At Fault
Even when passenger vehicle drivers use good judgment and defensive driving maneuvers, they still are at risk of colliding with a commercial truck, as truck drivers make mistakes too. In fact, the 2007 FMCSA/NHTSA study identified the truck as the at-fault vehicle in 55 percent of the crashes sampled. The following truck driver errors can lead to deadly crashes:
- Operating a commercial vehicle without proper training or qualifications.
- Speeding to meet a tight deadline.
- Drinking or using prescription or illegal drugs. Some truckers use stimulants, also known as “uppers,” to stay away for longer stretches.
- Failing to properly secure heavy loads.
- Loading trucks beyond the maximum capacity.
- Failing to complete required pre-trip and post-trip vehicle inspections.
- Driving for long stretches with no break or without getting enough sleep, leading to driver fatigue.
When a truck driver’s negligence results in injury to you or a loved one, work with an experienced Lufkin injury lawyer to ensure your legal rights are pursued to the fullest extent of the law.
Truck Driver Fatigue
The 2007 FMCSA/NHTSA study revealed that 7 percent of the crashes were caused by the truck driver being asleep at the wheel and 13 percent of nationwide large truck crashes involve truck driver fatigue. Driver fatigue occurs when a person suffers the symptoms of fatigue while driving, such as restlessness, drowsiness, aches and pains, sore or tired eyes or loss of concentration. When a driver is fatigued, their reaction time is slowed and they risk falling asleep behind the wheel. The NHTSA has said tired drivers are just as unsafe as drunk drivers. If you were injured as a result of truck driver fatigue, a Lufkin injury attorney can help you fight for your rights.
The aftermath of a commercial truck accident can be a very stressful time for the injured party, involving not only emotional duress, but also costly medical treatments and lengthy rehabilitation. If you or a loved one has been injured in a commercial truck accident, contact a Houston injury lawyer to discuss your case with an experienced attorney.