Why Harlingen Is a Truck Accident MagnetThe customs inspection site in Harlingen can handle 75 trucks at a time. Hundreds of trucks pass through there each day, spurred on by the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which reduced trade barriers between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Harlingen also is at the intersection of U.S. Route 77 and U.S. Route 83, which also are known as I-69E and I-2, respectively. While Harlingen is not among the largest cities in Texas, its location and recent industrial growth—based on low cost of living and access to major transportation networks—has led to the city’s development as a major transportation hub, especially for long-haul truckers. Unfortunately, this also makes Harlingen a prime location for traffic accidents involving 18-wheelers. Harlingen’s geographic location and industrial growth have made it a hub for commercial transport. Many big rigs travel through the area along U.S. Routes 77 and 83, and some, unfortunately, become involved in serious accidents during their commute. Much of the growth in truck traffic is due to the increase in drilling in the Permian Basin. Texas traffic deaths involving commercial vehicle traffic have spiked in recent years, with many of those accidents occurring in areas affected by increased oil industry activity, including Harlingen. While statistics don’t indicate how many of those commercial truck accidents involve the oil industry, the counties in the Permian Basin and surrounding the Barnett and Eagle Ford shale oil fields have experienced higher rates of trucks involving commercial truck traffic. Anyone in this area should be aware of the risks and know what to do if a truck accident occurs. National Trucking Accident Attorney Stewart J. Guss discusses trucking safety on national news with Mike Papantonio on America’s Lawyer https://vimeo.com/218029996
The Many Potential Causes of Truck AccidentsCommercial trucks—especially 18-wheelers, also known as tractor-trailers or semis—are the kings of the road. They are larger, longer, and weigh far more than even the largest passenger vehicle—including buses, but absolutely including private passenger vehicles, such as cars and pickup trucks. Everyday, cars and trucks by the millions drive side-by-side on the nation’s highways. For the most part, they do so without incident. When they do collide, the passenger cars almost invariably come out holding the short end of the stick. Recent federal statistics show that nearly 4,000 people died and 111,000 suffered injuries in truck-car accidents. As you might expect, nearly three-quarters of those deaths and injuries were occupants of the passenger vehicles involved in the accidents. Accidents between semis and passenger cars come in many forms. However, there are several especially common categories of truck-car accidents that frequently occur. Knowing about these types of accidents might help you avoid them.
Truck Override Accidents are Both Extremely Common and Extremely DangerousA truck override accident couldn’t be more like what it sounds like. Because 18-wheelers ride so much higher than passenger cars, or even pickup trucks, when they strike such vehicles, either head-on or from behind, the almost invariably wind up on top, literally riding over the passenger vehicle. While such accidents often occur when a truck driver is speeding and comes upon a passenger car going slower, or the truck is following too closely when a car in front of it brakes suddenly, there are ways a passenger car driver can cause an override accident, as well. While the truck driver in such a rear-end accident often will be at fault, that likely will be small consolation to the passenger car driver who has a tractor-trailer override his or her vehicle because of a foolish mistake. Drivers of a passenger car can cause an override accident in a number of ways, including:
- Failure to yield the right of way when entering a highway from an on-ramp. Pulling out in front of a truck traveling at high speed is never a good idea.
- Changing lanes too closely in front of a truck at high speed, and then braking.
- Driving far below the speed limit on highways at night without properly functioning position lights.
- Of course, a trucker can cause an override accident any number of ways, including:
- Miscalculating stopping distance and running over the car in front of him.
- Brake failure
- Defective tires
- Making an improper lane change or failing to consider the relative speed of a vehicle in the lane into which the truck is moving.
Negligence by Truck Drivers Can Be a Significant Factor in AccidentsObviously, there are many other causes of truck-car accidents. Some of these can be avoided by vigilance on the part of the passenger car driver. Some can’t. The elephant in the room is that trucks are big. If you have ever driven a passenger car on an interstate highway or some other major multi-lane roadway, you know full well that 18-wheel tractor-trailer rigs are a hazard to you just because they are so much larger than your vehicle. They have larger blind spots, they are not as maneuverable, they often can’t stop in time to avoid you. And when truck drivers are negligent, it’s the drivers of passenger cars who pay the price. Negligence on the part of truck drivers can include:
- Tired drivers: Federal statistics indicate 13 percent of commercial drivers were fatigued when they were involved in an accident. Some studies indicate that lack of sleep could be a contributing factor in as many as 40 percent of accidents involving large commercial trucks.
- Driving under the influence: Truckers are no different than other drivers—driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol is a possibility and, as you might expect, often results in disastrous consequences.
- Speeding: Truckers speed, too, and speed kills.
- Sloppy or careless driving: This can include improper lane changes, failure to check mirrors, failure to check blind spots, and other lack of attentiveness. Blind spots on trucks are much larger than on passenger cars, and every driver at some point has had a heart-stopping moment when they see a vehicle in a blind spot that they didn’t see until it was almost too late. Truckers have the same problem, but magnified by much larger large blind spots behind the truck as well as to both sides and potentially in front, depending upon the design of the truck.
Cargo Spills Can Cause Accidents or Result From AccidentsCargo spills are not usually the cause of truck accidents. In roughly three out of four truck accidents involving property damage, the cause of the accident is a collision with another vehicle. Recent statistics indicate that only 5 percent of all fatal truck crashes began with the vehicle overturning and spilling its cargo without colliding with another vehicle. A recent government study found that the leading causes of truck crashes were:
- Loss of control due to a sudden equipment failure. This could include tire failures, total engine failure, or less predictable events such as a vehicle hood coming loose and blowing into the windscreen, blocking visibility
- Driver fatigue
- Either another vehicle drifting into the truck ‘s lane, or the truck drifting into another vehicle’s lane
- Bad driving conditions. This could be due to poor maintenance or bad weather
- Shifting cargo
- Driving off the edge of the road
- Driving too fast through a turn
- Unexpectedly encountering a stopped vehicle in the lane of travel, or unexpected debris in the road
Trucks are at Enhanced Risk for Rollover AccidentsBecause trucks have a high profile, they have a higher risk of rollover accidents. Physics dictates that vehicles that are taller and narrower are at greater risk of rollover. While tractor-trailers are wider than regular passenger vehicles, they are considerably taller. Tractor-trailers are easily the tallest vehicles on the road. This gives semis a higher center of gravity, which increases their risk of rolling over in an accident. One federal study determined that the primary causes of truck rollovers included Driving too fast through curves, which accounted for nearly half of all truck rollover accidents. These accidents occurred most often while negotiating on-and off-ramps
- Faulty brakes
- Poorly maintained road surfaces
- Distracted or drowsy driving
- Oversteering. This could include taking turns too tightly, failing to stay in the lane, and overcorrecting for bad steering.
If You Suffered a Truck Accident Injury in Harlingen, the Legal Team of Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, Can HelpIf you suffered injuries in a traffic accident that involved a truck in the Harlingen area, consult a personal injury law firm to explore your legal options. It is imperative to select a firm with experience handling accident cases involving commercial trucks. The attorneys and legal professionals of Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, are nationally recognized for protecting the rights of truck accident victims for more than 20 years. If you were injured in a truck accident, contact our office right now for your free consultation! Because we take all of our truck accident cases on a contingency fee basis, you will not owe us a DIME unless we win your case. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so call us today at 800-898-4877 or contact us now by CLICKING HERE.
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