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Truck Accidents Pose a Significant Traffic RiskNational Trucking Accident Attorney Stewart J. Guss discusses trucking safety on national news with Mike Papantonio on America’s Lawyer https://vimeo.com/218029996 Recent statistics show that fatal truck accidents are on the rise after years of declines, reaching nearly 4,500 fatal crashes per year. Truck accidents involving injuries are also are on the rise after dropping for several years, shooting up to almost 120,000 annually. Local statistics do not contradict the national statistics. Traffic accidents in Fort Worth are up more than 20 percent in recent years. A section of I-35 West in Fort Worth ranks as one of the most congested roads in Texas, with the accidents that accompany high volumes of traffic. Local police statistics show that nine out of the 10 top locations for traffic accidents in Fort Worth lie along this stretch of road. Statewide, traffic accidents in Texas continue to pose a growing hazard. According to recent statistics from the state, the fatality rate per vehicle miles is rising, as is the overall number of people killed on Texas roads annually. In the most recent available figures, road deaths hit 3,800, a jump of almost 6 percent over the previous year. As traffic in the Lone Star state increases, so, too, do the number of people dying on the roadways in and around Dallas and Forth Worth. More than 14,000 traffic accidents in Texas each year result in injuries, leaving 18,000 people seriously hurt in those accidents. National statistics show that commercial trucks are a big part of those fatal accidents. Of the 5,000 fatal traffic accidents in the state in one recent year, the federal numbers show that more than 500 of those accidents involved large commercial trucks, accounting for nearly 11 percent of all fatal traffic crashes here. Amazingly, the Texas numbers for fatal crashes involving large trucks amounted to more than 14 percent of all such accidents nationwide.
Truck Accidents in Fort Worth Favor the Truck—AlwaysIn car accidents with a large commercial truck—a tractor-trailer, semi, big rig, 18-wheeler or whatever other names you use to describe such trucks—do the odds favor the passenger vehicle. Simply put, when tractor-trailers and cars collide, cars lose. Moreover, this isn’t some abstract competition—lives are lost, and serious injuries suffered, and the clear majority of those deaths and injuries occur to the occupants of the passenger vehicles involved in accidents with tractor-trailers. While recent federal statistics indicate that 73 percent of fatalities in accidents involving large commercial trucks were occupants of other vehicles, 17 percent were occupants of the trucks, and 10 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists, and other people who were not in a car, those statistics are a touch misleading. While three-quarters of the deaths happening to occupants of other vehicles might seem one-sided enough, the full story is even worse. In fatal accidents involving large commercial trucks—tractor-trailers—and a passenger vehicle, the occupants of the passenger vehicles suffered 97 percent of the fatalities. In other words, most of the deaths of truck occupants occurred in single-vehicle crashes or crashes only involving other trucks. Once a passenger vehicle enters the equation, almost everyone who perishes as a result of an accident is one of the people in the passenger vehicle. This disparity is easy to understand. A fully loaded tractor-trailer rig, with a 53-foot trailer, can weigh as much as 30 times as the average passenger vehicle. Even with a lighter truck cargo and a heavier passenger vehicle, the truck generally weighs about 20 times as much as the passenger vehicle. It doesn’t take a physics major to understand that the bigger, heavier vehicle is going to fare much better in an accident than the smaller, lighter vehicle. Because trucks ride much higher off the ground than do passenger vehicles—as do their trailers—many accidents involve passenger vehicles being driven over by the tractor-trailer, disappearing beneath the rig. The people in the passenger vehicle will come out on the short end of that encounter. Further, the size disparity means that commercial trucks are less able to take evasive actions to avoid accidents. The greater size and weight of trucks make it far more difficult for them to stop quickly. A loaded tractor-trailer can require as much as 40 percent more distance to stop than would a passenger car. On wet or otherwise slippery roads, the difference in stopping distance can be even more significant. If a truck has poorly maintained brakes, there is no telling how much longer an 18-wheeler might take to stop than a car would.
Common Causes of Fort Worth Trucking AccidentsTexas has some of the most commercial truck registrations of any state in the U.S. Drivers in smaller passenger vehicles must share the highways with these over-sized and heavy semi-trucks every day. While commercial drivers must have special training and special licenses to operate big rigs and other commercial vehicles, they can make mistakes and poor judgment decisions like anyone else. Unfortunately, when a commercial truck crashes, it can cause particularly devastating damage and injuries to others. When an 80,000-pound truck collides with a 5,000-pound car, it’s not hard to believe that the aftermath can be overwhelming. Motorists can sustain catastrophic injuries and regularly need transportation in an ambulance or even a Medevac helicopter. To make matters worse, large trucks can often hit many vehicles at once or experience cargo spills, which can then cause a chain reaction crash. The scene of a crash often takes a long time to clean up and may shut down roads for hours while emergency crews help victims and clear the highway. There are many potential causes of commercial truck accidents in Fort Worth, including:
- Truck driver error
- Violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) or Texas commercial vehicle laws
- Negligent hiring or negligent retention of dangerous or unqualified drivers by the trucking company
- Improper cargo loading or securement
- Inadequate truck maintenance or inspection
- Defective truck parts
Trucker Negligence Can be a Major Factor in Fort Worth Truck AccidentsThere are many trucks on the road, and inevitably they have to travel side by side with passenger vehicles, everywhere, all the time. While the drivers of passenger vehicles obviously can make mistakes that cause Fort Worth truck crashes, commercial truck drivers commit errors that end in tragedy, not just for the trucker but the occupants of passenger vehicles around them. Negligent acts by truck drivers resulting in accidents can include:
- Driving drowsy. According to federal statistics, about 13 percent of truckers were fatigued when they were involved in a crash. Other studies indicate driver fatigue could be a factor in 40 percent of all commercial truck accidents.
- Driving under the influence: Truck drivers are not immune to alcohol or drug use while driving. Like anyone else, they can drive impaired and, like anyone else, their impaired can result in accidents with horrific results.
- Speeding: Truckers speed, drivers of passenger cars speed, all drivers speed. Speeding inhibits the ability to react in time to avoid an accident. Speed kills.
- Failure to perform routine actions to ensure safety. Truckers can make improper lane changes, fail to check their rear-view mirrors, and fail to check blind spots., which can be quite dangerous, as tractor-trailers have large blind spots behind, to the right, the left, and even in front, depending upon the model of truck. If you’ve driven a car, you’ve been surprised by a vehicle in your blind spots. For truckers, the much greater size of their blind spots dramatically enhances the possibility of a blind-spot accident involving a tractor-trailer and a passenger vehicle.
Fort Worth Truck Accident InjuriesUnfortunately truck collisions in Fort Worth can cause serious and life-threatening injuries, even in accidents that occur at lower speeds. Our law firm has successfully helped injured truck accident victims in Fort Worth like you. We know the complications that can occur after a serious truck crash and we work diligently to help you get the money you need. Our lawyers have represented truck accident victims in Fort Worth who suffered various injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head and neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Disfigurement, amputation, and burns
- Internal organ damage
- Catastrophic injuries
There Are Things You Can Do to Cut the Risk of Accidents With TrucksBecause commercial trucks, such as semi-trucks and big rigs, have such great physical advantages in encounters with passenger vehicles, it makes sense for the drivers of passenger vehicles to take all precautions to protect themselves. While it would make no sense to blame the driver of a passenger vehicle who does nothing wrong for an accident caused by the negligence of a truck driver, that’s not what we’re talking about here. Taking steps to avoid becoming involved in an 18-wheeler accident in Fort Worth is more about self-preservation. Car drivers in Fort Worth can’t win in a collision with a truck, so it only makes sense to be aware of how to at least help avoid such a wreck. The most obvious step you can take, then, is to be aware of tractor-trailer blind spots and take defensive actions to ensure that a truck driver can see you. Such measures include:
- Don’t cut too close in front of a tractor-trailer. Many models of trucks have long hoods, and drivers can’t see what is immediately in front of their rig. Because trucks need much more room to brake than passenger vehicles, cutting in front of a large commercial vehicle could put you in a blind spot of an 18-wheeler driver that is moving faster than you are and can’t break in time to avoid an override accident. Be sure there is plenty of space between you and the tractor-trailer before you change lanes in front of a truck.
- Don’t drive next to a truck. If you’re next to a big rig, the odds are you’re in a blind spot which is a dangerous spot for a car. If this happens to you, fall back far enough so the driver can see you or pass the truck, but take care to pass trucks on the left, because a truck’s blind spot is smaller on the left and it is easier for the driver to see you.
- If you’re behind a tractor-trailer, keep a safe distance back. If you can’t see the truck’s side mirrors, the driver of the truck can’t see you. The size of the rig severely limits what you can see of the road in front of the truck. If the truck driver has to brake to avoid a hazard in front of him, you won’t be able to see that hazard. You could wind up driving up under a truck that is braking hard. Keep back.
- Behind a tractor-trailer, keep a safe distance back. If you can’t see the truck’s side mirrors, the driver of the truck can’t see you. The size of the semi severely limits what you can see of the road in front of the vehicle. If the truck driver brakes to avoid a hazard in front of him, you won’t be able to see that hazard. You could wind up driving up under a truck that is braking hard. Keep back.
Victims of Fort Worth Trucking Accidents Face Costly DamagesOther than the fact that no one wants to be involved in a traffic accident, there are some excellent reasons to do your best to avoid becoming involved in a traffic accident with a commercial truck. First and foremost, people injured or killed in crashes between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles are overwhelmingly the occupants of the passenger vehicle. The size and weight differences between trucks and cars virtually guarantee that accident victims are much more likely to be the occupants of the smaller passenger vehicles and that those victims are more likely to incur much more costly damages in such accidents, such as:
- Higher medical expenses because of more severe injuries, including future medical costs driven by the higher likelihood of injuries requiring lifelong care.
- Damages that include lost wages from lengthy periods out of work, as well as loss of future earning ability.
- Costs arising from injuries including permanent disability, disfigurement, and death.
If You Suffered Injuries in a Commercial Truck Accident in the Fort Worth Area, the Legal Team at Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, Can HelpIf you or a loved one suffered an injury in a truck accident in Fort Worth, we can help. After a traffic accident with a tractor-trailer in the Fort Worth area, you need to consult with a Fort Worth personal injury law firm as soon as possible, one that knows how to bring you the justice you deserve. You have options, and we will help navigate those options. For a free case evaluation, contact the legal team at Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, at 800-898-4877, we are open to assist you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. If you prefer email, use our online contact form so we can evaluate your case. Don’t hesitate—call today. Our Fort Worth personal injury attorneys are proud to represent injured motor vehicle accident victims in Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, Katy, Arlington, San Antonio, Aldine, and throughout Tarrant County, Harris County, and the state of Texas.
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