Texas Truck Accident Attorneys
The Trucking Industry in Texas
Texas is the largest state, as measured by land mass, in the continental United States, covering close to 300,000 square miles. It surpassed New York state years ago to become the second-most populous state, and is now home to more than 25 million people. In fact, if you’ve ever been on an interstate or highway, chances are that trucks are almost everywhere you look when you’re on the road. And, rightfully so. Trucking plays a major role in the economy of the state, and uses the network of interstate highways to transport merchandise to markets within Texas and to out of state. The port at Houston, the fourth most populous city in the country, serves as a major hub for trucking. Truckers have fairly good driving records, according to the Texas Trucking Association. However, because of their sheer size and mass, it’s easy to see why large trucks are likely to inflict more damage on passenger vehicles in accidents than accidents involving other passenger vehicles.
The trucking industry has been around in Texas for longer than 100 years, starting with the development of the first oil wells in the Lone Star state, and predates paved roads. The trucking industry has had a long-time partnership with the oil industry. Trucking in Texas expanded during the push for interstate highways during the administration of President Dwight Eisenhower. Texas is now crisscrossed by a number of interstate highways, and increased trucking has become more pronounced on these roads, including 1-10, I-20, I-35, State Highway 45 and U.S. Highway 183. And, the trucking industry continues to grow. Rural roads near drilling areas for oil and gas, are also becoming busier and busier. With truckers in high demand, turnover remains high and can create a danger to those on the road.
Houston, the fourth most populous city in the United States, serves as the major hub for trucking in the State of Texas, and close to 2.1 million residents call Houston their hometown. Houston is home to one of the biggest ports in the country and the 10th largest in the world, and is the top-grossing tonnage port in the United States. Freight arrives in Houston from Europe and through the Panama Canal. The trucking industry remains busier than ever, as a result of the frequency of cargo deliveries, and demands in the industry to move merchandise throughout the country.
Trucking Accidents and Consequences
Throughout the United States, 5,000 fatalities occur out of the approximate 500,000 accidents involving trucks, of all kinds. Though truck accidents may be frequent, trucks account for only a small percentage of fatalities on Texas highways. The Texas Department of Transportation states that commercial vehicles were involved with 525 of the 3,399 fatalities in 2012. The fatalities for commercial vehicles increased to 531 in 2013, according to data at txdot.gov, which posts accident statistics online as far back as 2003. Of all the 254 counties within Texas, Harris County had the most fatalities of all counties at 26 and the most overall accidents at 4,274. According to Texas Department of Transportation, the simple explanation is that Harris County, with Houston as its county seat, is the most populous county in the state, resulting in the most trucking and overall traffic. Dallas County followed at 21 fatalities and 2,970 overall crashes involving commercial vehicles. However, a number of counties had zero fatalities.
Certain features make truck accidents potentially more dangerous when involved in an accident: large size, heavy weight and the cargo carried by the commercial vehicle. A commercial truck can weigh up to 30 times more than the average passenger vehicle. Add that with speed, failure to brake adequately, cargo shifting and spilling on the roadway, and you have a trucking disaster right before you very eyes. Besides causing injuries and deaths, accidents involving trucks tie up traffic as rescue workers respond to the scene, and can delay travel by hours. Txdot.gov also breaks down total crashes statewide based on more than 70 contributing causes. Failure to control speed is the top cause, responsible for 115,889 accidents in 2013. Other causes include driver inattention at 86,628 crashes, and failure to drive in a single lane comes in a distant third at 29,572. And, a huge number of the victims involved in truck accidents were not the truck drivers themselves, but either the drivers or passengers of the other vehicles involved in that crash.
Safety Prevention for Texas Truck Accidents
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) makes it their primary mission to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries. They do this through activities such as constant and strong environment of safety; attention to high-risk carriers; improving technology of information systems; providing necessary training and enforcing increased safety awareness. They have also published new rules that restrict texting and cell phone usage among truck drivers and bus drivers while operating a commercial vehicle. Penalties can be close to $3,00 in fines, and even more for their employers who allow their drivers to use a hand held-device while driving. They’ve also created training tools for commercial drivers of cargo tanks that transport hazardous vehicles on the safety and prevention of rollovers. Among their tools are videos that help drivers learn about avoiding sudden movements that may lead to a rollover crash, how to control a heavy load on roadways and while making turns, ways to identify high risk, how to remain alert and attentive and how to control speed.
Driving on Texas highways can prove dangerous in more ways than one, and it is best to take special precautions when driving on roads shared with 18-wheelers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration supplied a number of suggestions on making a trip safe while driving on highways.
- Trucks and buses take much longer to stop than cars. This means to avoid cutting in front of heavy vehicles that may not have time to create a “brake cushion” before running into you.
- Seat belts provide the best protection in case of an accident, especially one involving a truck. Trucks require a greater stopping distance and can seriously hurt you if they strike your vehicle from behind.
- Trucks are notorious for their “blind posts”, the parts of their truck known as no-zones. Large trucks have no-zones around the front of the vehicle, the back and the sides, making it difficult for their drivers to see what lies in those areas.
- Be extra caution when trucks make wide turns because; you do not want to become stuck between the truck and the curb. Truck drivers sometimes need to swing wide to the left to negotiate a right turn, especially in urban areas.
Legal Assistance for Texas Truck Accidents
Trucking accidents can cause serious injuries, and even death. If you or a loved one has been injured or died in a truck or trucking-industry related accident in Texas, you will face medical bills, along with lost wages, emotional distress and insurance technicalities and challenges. Dealing with other parties in trucking related accidents can be difficult, devastating and destructive. A thorough investigation means that all parties will need to cooperate fully with Texas Department of Public Safety or other agencies investigating the accident. An investigation will determine whether the truck driver was at fault. Some of the items that may be investigated include:
- Fatigue or condition of the driver. Does the driver have a history or prior accidents, speeding tickets or a DUI charge?
- Was the driver distracted by texting or phone calls or other outside influences while driving?
- Did the company provide adequate training and hiring practices?
- Was the truck carrying a balanced load?
- Did the driver complete all required driving logs? Was any information on the logs falsified?
- Has the commercial vehicle received regular and routine maintenance?
A capable and competent law firm has experienced attorneys and investigators who will review the reports and subpoena documents from defendants in civil suits involving accidents with trucks. New York law firm Finz & Finz, P.C., who holds the record settlement for a truck-trailer case in the history of New York State, is experienced in helping you when you are involved in a truck or truck-related accident. Contact Finz & Finz, P.C., now, toll free at (855) TOP FIRM or fill out the Free Texas Truck Accident and Injury Case Evaluation Form to start the process. We will aggressively look out for your interests and that of your family.