Every year, thousands of Americans are injured and killed in accidents involving trucks. The roads of Texas are no exception: according to the Texas Department of Transportation, there was not a single day in 2016 that did not have a Texas traffic fatality. If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, contact an experienced Houston truck accident attorney as soon as possible. You have legal rights which must be protected.
The Trend Toward More Truck Accidents
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety provides data on fatal accidents in the United States since 1975. This data shows that traffic fatalities hit an all-time low in 2009. Many experts have suggested that this was due to the fact that Americans were travelling fewer miles in the aftermath of the housing crisis and ensuing economic recession. But traffic accidents have been steadily on the rise ever since then, and 2016 is on track to be the deadliest year yet.
In order to collect damages, plaintiffs (persons injured) in a truck accident will need to prove the driver and/or the trucking company was negligent. This will involve establishing that the driver owed a duty of care to operate the vehicle in a reasonably safe manner, failed to do so, and caused the crash that resulted in injuries and resulted in damages. While trucking companies can be held vicariously liable for damages caused by trucking company employees who acted in the course and scope of employment, via the doctrine of respondeat superior, they can also be held directly liable for things like:
- Negligent hiring;
- Negligent retention
- Negligent supervision.
These cases can quickly become complex, so it's important to only trust your case to an injury attorney with experience in trucking accident cases.
How Houston Drivers Can Stay Safe Around Trucks
Large trucks are more likely to be involved in accidents, and they cause more damage when they do. Follow our safety tips to reduce your chances of being involved in a truck accident:
- Always leave plenty of following distance between yourself and a truck. Large, heavy trucks require greater stopping distance to avoid obstacles in the road.
- Take precautions to ensure you are seen. Drivers of large trucks have poorer visibility than drivers of passenger cars. Be sure to use your signals and headlights to help truck drivers see your vehicle.
- Be aware of driver risks – both from yourself and other drivers on the road. The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration presented a study to Congress on Large Truck Crash Causation. The most common crash factors were all driver related (including legal drug use, travelling too fast for road conditions, unfamiliarity with the roadway, and not paying attention to hazards and condition). Truck drivers were also prone to fatigue and feeling pressure from motor carriers to complete more miles. Protect yourself by eliminating all distractions within your own vehicle, and learning to recognize dangerous driving patterns from large vehicles on the roadway. Report any unsafe driving you witness.
- Pay attention to the cargo of trucks around you. Hazardous materials must be labeled with appropriate placards. Be sure to allow adequate distance between yourself and any large vehicle transporting hazardous or flammable materials.
- Tire blowouts are particularly dangerous for heavy vehicles, such as large trucks, because the resulting loss of control of the vehicle causes even more damage on the way to a stop. Again, leave plenty of stopping distance between yourself and other large vehicles on the road. Signal any drivers with loose tires or other dangerous equipment.
- Slow down! Be particularly cautious when circumstances demand it. Inclement weather, poor visibility, and Florida’s infamous hurricane season can all pose highly dangerous risks to vehicles that do not slow down. Construction zones also pose greater risks, as there are often workers present and more large vehicles in the vicinity. Pay attention to your surroundings and adapt your driving behavior accordingly.