We share the road with 18-wheelers. These vehicles are massive – when they’re fully loaded, they can top out at 80,000 pounds – and when they’re involved in accidents, those accidents are among the most deadly and terrifying on our roadways. Big rigs dwarf the other vehicles on the road, and this size differential, alone, can make a truck accident deadly. An 18-wheeler accident can have dire physical, emotional, and financial effects that overwhelm your life in unpredictable ways. When you get behind the wheel, remember that you share the road with semi-trucks – so make driving safely your top priority.
Because of the significant dangers inherent to the industry, both the federal government and the State of Texas implement strict regulations on both truckers and the entire trucking industry. Such regulations address several fundamental safety factors:
- Licensing standards for commercial drivers;
- Standards related to commercial drivers’ usage of alcohol and controlled substances (along with testing standards);
- Safety and health standards for truckers and safety standards for trucking companies; and
- Standards related to the transportation of hazardous materials.
Because 18-wheeler accidents are so dangerous, strict regulations are necessary to help minimize their occurrence.
If you’ve been injured in an 18-wheeler accident, you need an experienced truck accident attorney. The skilled legal team at The Law Office of George Salinas in Laredo, Texas, understands just how devastating such accidents are, and we’re here to help. We have the experience, dedication, and compassion to aggressively advocate for your just compensation.
Big Rig Accidents and Statistics
Semi-trucks swarm our highways for a reason – to fulfill ever-growing consumer demands. As more and more 18-wheelers hit the road to help keep pace with this demand, accident statistics reflect the effect this uptick in commercial trucks has on truck accident fatalities:
- In 2015, nearly 4,000 people died in semi accidents nationwide;
- In 2015, the drivers and passengers who were in the other vehicles – not in the 18-wheelers – accounted for 97 percent of truck accident fatalities;
- From 2009 to 2015, the number of truck accident fatalities rose 22 percent; and
- An 18-wheeler was involved in 11 percent of all 2015 traffic fatalities.
These accident-related statistics are significant and should serve as an important reminder to proceed with caution when you’re driving near semis.
Trucking: Keeping It Safe
Experienced, healthy, well-rested, well-trained, and engaged truckers are the most important mechanism for helping to make the trucking industry safer. After ensuring that truckers are up to the immense task of maneuvering big rigs across the country’s highways and byways, it’s necessary to make sure that the trucks themselves are well-maintained and in safe-operating condition – through the implementation of regularly scheduled and rigorous checking systems as mandated by the law. Further, it’s crucial that trucking companies are managed according to state and federal regulations and that they prioritize safety at every level.
These three factors are critical to helping minimize truck accidents and are worth exploring more closely:
- The Truck Driver
Because they man these mammoth machines, truckers represent the frontline when it comes to safety. Truckers accept the gargantuan responsibility of safely maneuvering massive cargos along our motorways at great speeds and for long periods of time. In fact, the trucking industry routinely places unreasonable scheduling demands on truck drivers that drivers often scramble to keep up with because not to do so can negatively affect their livelihoods. Additionally, trucking is a highly sedentary occupation that isn’t conducive to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This combination of a sedentary lifestyle and an overly taxing schedule can exacerbate the likelihood that accidents will ensue.
- The 18-Wheeler
The 18-wheeler itself is an important element in maintaining truck industry safety. Big rigs are highly calibrated machines that have many moving parts and plenty of opportunities to break down or otherwise create hazardous driving situations. There are several specific components that are most closely associated with truck accidents:
Well-working brakes are obviously critical to the safety of any motor vehicle. The brakes on big rigs are exceedingly complicated systems that demand a strictly calibrated maintenance routine.
Tires are the point where the rubber meets the road – as they say – and as such are elemental to safety. A defective tire can render a semi very difficult to control, which is a significant safety hazard. Tires must be carefully and constantly monitored.
Coupling devices connect trailers to their cabs, and any defect in these critical mechanisms can be deadly. Regular and thorough inspections are required.
- The Trucking Company
The trucking company runs a fleet of trucks that it’s responsible for keeping road worthy. This responsibility extends to the incorporation of an overarching safety-checking mechanism that relates to truck maintenance. Ultimately, several entities share the responsibility for maintaining a safe fleet of semis (beyond the truck driver and the trucking company):
- The semis’ manufacturer;
- The semis’ mechanics; and
- The semis’ manufacturer of parts.
Semis have some inherent safety issues that can contribute to trucking accidents:
- Center-of-Gravity Issues
Issues related to center-of-gravity often play a definitive role in semi accidents. If they’re not properly loaded or if they have a design flaw, big rigs can have dangerous center-of-gravity issues that can lead to rollovers and other extremely dangerous truck accidents.
- The Issue of Significant Blind Spots
Because of the size of their rigs, commercial truck drivers experience blind spots all the way around their trucks. These no zones prevent the trucker from maintaining a clear view of the road around his or her 18-wheeler, and they often contribute to truck accidents.
If You’ve Been Injured in a Truck Accident, Contact an Experienced Laredo Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Truck accidents are terrifying, and if you’ve been injured in such an accident, you are no doubt overwhelmed and uncertain about how best to proceed. The skilled truck accident lawyers at The Law Offices of George Salinas know how difficult this process is, and we’re here to help. We have the experience, commitment, and compassion to fight for the compensation to which you’re entitled, so please contact or call us at 210-225-0909 to schedule an appointment today.