The number of trucking accidents is steadily increasing in the United States, resulting in some 4,000 deaths and 100,000 injuries annually.
The Texas Comptroller’s Office reports that “nearly 82 percent of the communities in Texas and around the U.S. rely on trucking exclusively to bring them their goods.” While tractor-trailer rigs are critical to the Texas economy, they do pose risks to the motoring public if not safely maintained and operated. The typical automobile weighs around 5,000 pounds. By contrast, an eighteen-wheeler weighs up to 80,000 pounds. According to the Texas Institute of Transportation, the difference between cars and trucks in size, weight, speed and handling means that automobile passengers can sustain significant injuries-sometimes fatal-in car-truck collisions.
Recently, NBC News reported that there has been a surge in truck accidents. Fatal truck accidents happen nearly 11 times each day killing nearly 4,000 people each year. Moreover, approximately 100,000 people are injured each year in truck crashes. An improving economy leads to more goods being shipped by trucks on the highways and more pressure to get the cargo to its destination on time. Companies demand prompt delivery of goods and consumers are intent on having their Amazon purchases the next day. Because of time pressures, some trucking companies may encourage their drivers to work long hours-often in violation of trucking safety regulations-thereby putting the public at risk from drivers who fall asleep at the wheel.
Some look at trucking accidents, and the terrible price often paid by motorists who are killed or maimed, as simply part of the cost of doing business. One trucking industry spokesman was quoted as saying in an NBC News article that there will always be a risk on our highways posed by big trucks. The question for the public is how much risk is acceptable.
In addition to fatigued drivers, there are other reasons for the surge in trucking accidents. Some trucking companies fail to properly maintain the brakes and tires on their vehicles. Other trucking companies either fail to properly secure cargo or they overload trucks thereby making them more difficult to control at high speeds and prone to roll-overs.
According to NBC News, there are safety innovations being developed that could “radically alter” the trucking industry and improve safety. Volvo is working on developing a truck that will use radar to detect cars ahead and brake automatically if the truck gets too close. Mercedes-Benz is working toward the development of a fully autonomous truck which will one day function as a robotic vehicle that needs little to no input from the driver.
Howard Abramson recently wrote in Fleet Owner magazine that, in his many years covering the trucking industry, he has been astonished by the industry’s “steadfastly antagonistic” approach to government attempts to impose new regulations that operate to improve safety. In Abramson’s view, trucking companies tend to look at safety regulations as a burden to be fought when possible and accepted reluctantly when lobbying against the regulations fails. He also notes that trucking companies have been reluctant to employ new technologies which make trucks safer. Although truck makers in Europe have been supplying advanced safety systems for years, the American trucking industry has engaged in excessive foot dragging in embracing new technology which could significantly reduce truck-auto crashes.
Seeking legal counsel
If you or a family member has been injured due to the negligence of a motor carrier, you should consult with a Texas attorney experienced in handling motor vehicle accident cases. The attorney can investigate the accident and advise you how to proceed against the trucking company and its insurance carrier.
Keywords: truck accidents, car-truck collision, injury, safety innovations, Texas