Beware: sharing the road with big rigs is risky
Whenever you share the Texas highways with big rigs, you and your passengers are at risk. Eighteen-wheelers and semi-trucks typically weigh more than 10,000 pounds. When fully loaded, they could weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, or even more. Passenger vehicles weigh significantly less, and when these two collide, occupants of passenger vehicles are typically worse off.
If you are a victim of a car vs. 18-wheeler accident, you can suffer fractured bones, spinal cord injuries, internal injuries and traumatic brain injuries. You will probably lose workdays, which will cause income losses. Along with steep medical costs, devastating financial consequences can follow.
Causation-based studies have shown the following typical causes for large truck accidents:
- A significant percentage of such accidents involve 18-wheelers veering out of their travel lanes and into other lanes or off the road.
- Rear-end crashes often follow when big rigs do not maintain safe following distances.
- Many large trucks travel faster than what conditions allow, making it difficult for operators to handle poor road conditions, shifting cargo or mechanical failures.
Common causes of big rig crashes
Both truckers and motorists have responsibilities when it comes to driving, and the following are the most frequently reported causes:
- Mechanical problems: Proper maintenance of large trucks is crucial. Mechanical malfunctions can include brakes, tires and engine problems.
- Safety around trucks: Make sure you and your children know how to navigate your vehicle safely around big rigs. Teach them about the limitations that truckers face.
- No-zones: Stay out of the trucker’s blind spots. Certain areas beside and behind trucks are no-zones, and it is a good idea to remember that the truck operator can only see you if you can see him or her in the side-view mirror.
- Extra space requirements: Never lose sight of the fact that 18-wheelers need extra space to come to a halt, and to make turns. Never pull in front of a truck because the driver will likely be unable to stop in time and avoid striking your vehicle.
- Distractions: Both truck and passenger vehicle drivers can cause crashes if they allow cell phones, texting or any other activities to distract them and take their attention away from the road.
- Fatigue: The nature of a truck driver’s job typically causes stress and fatigue because they must meet challenging deadlines. Furthermore, their duties often include physical exertion during loading and delivering cargo.
- Drowsy driving: Truckers often work under pressure to extend their driving hours for higher profits. Drowsy driving is as dangerous for truckers as it is for you and any other driver.
Preventing Big Rig Accidents
8 in every 10 accidents involving small vehicles and semi-trucks are usually caused by the smaller vehicle. The repercussions of these accidents extend beyond vehicle damage to include life-altering or fatal injuries. Thankfully, these accidents can be avoided. Here are some tips to help you achieve that:
- Practice caution – Avoid driving for too long close to a truck. Even if the driver can see you, some factors could be out of their control. For instance, a blown-out tire from their truck could hit your windshield, or you could lose control and collide due to inclement weather
- Signal when you want to stop – Big rigs take longer to stop than a small vehicle. Always try to pull off to the side first if you must stop on the interstate. If this is not possible, signal the truck behind you so they can slow down and stop.
- Avoid distractions – Distracted driving is one of the major causes of auto accidents in the country. The risk is even higher when sharing a road with large vehicles. To protect yourself and other drivers, avoid texting or talking on your phone when driving next to a big rig.
- Pass cautiously – Large trucks have blind spots that make it difficult for drivers to see passenger vehicles. They might not see you if you drive alongside them. If you have to pass a large vehicle, always pass quickly, cautiously, and on the left side.
Avoid using your high beams – Bright lights can temporarily blind a big rig driver. These few seconds are enough for the driver to cause a dangerous accident.
If you are the victim of an accident caused by the negligence of a truck operator in Houston or elsewhere in Texas, you may be unable to return to work for a significant period — if ever. You will likely have questions about your right to recovery of damages. In such circumstances, the sensible thing to do is to secure the services of an experienced personal injury attorney. Legal counsel can explain your legal rights and navigate the ensuing proceedings to recover economic and noneconomic losses that will allow you to move forward and get your life back on track.