Texas ranks as the second biggest state in the country, with an estimated 27,862,596 citizens as of 2016, according to the US Census Bureau. Dallas alone has an estimated 1.28 million people, ranking it in the top 10 largest cities in the United States. A population this size can mean several things, but in this case, they’re mostly positive: it represents a desirable place to live, a good quality of life, and a growing economy with abundant opportunities.
But a matching infrastructure is necessary simply to provide essential services, and part of that infrastructure is the ability to bring supplies to the people that live there. To do so, a small army of trucks – commercial and delivery — are necessary, from Fed-Ex to UPS to the big rigs from Walmart, among others, just to keep up with stock. And with this number of trucks on the road, accidents are inevitable.
DOT, NHTSA, NCSA and other organizations estimate that trucks operating in the U.S. each year are involved in 500,000 accidents, resulting in roughly 5,000 fatalities. The same statistics show 22 percent of truck accidents result in injuries, roughly 130,000 a year overall. In addition, the accidents cost roughly $20 billion a year, $13.1 billion of which is for lost quality of life.
What to Do
If you or a loved one has been injured in a commercial accident, seek legal representation immediately. Contact Guajardo & Marks as soon as possible for an evaluation to see how best to proceed with your claim. With home offices in Dallas, Guajardo & Marks has both the experience and resources to help. You pay nothing out of pocket until your claim is settled.
According to the Texas DOT, in Dallas alone, in 2015, there were 48,999 motor vehicle crashes with 259 fatalities and with 18,322 injuries; there were 273 commercial motor vehicle crashes, with 31 fatalities. According to Trucking Statistics, about 15.5 million trucks operate overall in the U.S. each year. Commercial truck accidents account for roughly 130,000 injuries each year, for an average cost of about $60,000 per crash. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports there were 415,000 crashes involving large commercial trucks in 2015, with 3,598 fatalities.
As with any accident, large truck crashes can occur for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common are:
- Loss of control of the truck due to some event like a tire blowout
- Disabling or non-disabling vehicle failure – engine problem or hood flew up
- Another motor vehicle encroaching on the truck ‘s lane
- Poor road conditions due to poor road maintenance or weather
- Traveling too fast for road conditions
- Shifting cargo
- Lane drifting – by either the truck or a passenger vehicle
- Driving off the edge of the road
- Improper truck maneuvering during events (turns and passing through intersections)
- Coming upon a stopped vehicle
- Finding objects on the highway
- Driver fatigue
Driver Fatigue is one of the largest causes of truck accidents, for obvious reasons. With long hours of monotonous driving and tight timelines to transport goods from one place to another, drivers often do not get enough rest. Laws have been put in place to ensure that drivers get enough rest between runs, but National Transport Insurance estimates that fatigue and speed are factors in at least 42 percent of accidents.
A study conducted by The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) investigated fatal-to-driver truck accidents in eight states in a one-year period, examining drug screenings and blood specimens on 168 fatally injured drivers. They found that one or more drugs were found in 68 percent of drivers; 33 percent had psychoactive drugs or alcohol in their systems.
Truck Driver Distraction
Distracted driving is an issue with all types of vehicles, but it can be exceptionally dangerous in an 80,000-pound truck. The FMCSA estimates that distracted driving contributed to 71 percent of accidents in 2009. Drivers can be distracted by many things, including:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player.
Oil and Fracking Boom
While the most recent oil and fracking boom in Texas has been a financial windfall for the state, it has also put far more trucks on the road, some of them unsafe. Chron.com reports that between 2009-2013, traffic fatalities in Texas jumped 8 percent, from 3,122 to 3,378, but commercial vehicle fatalities rose from 352 to 532, a jump of more than 50 percent.
Who is Liable?
If you are involved in an accident with a commercial truck, there may be several responsible parties — the driver, the employer, a negligent repair person, the manufacturer of a defective truck part, and others. You need the assistance of an experienced truck wreck lawyer to make sure you receive all of the compensation to which you are entitled.
Guajardo & Marks, LLP of Dallas has the experience and resources you need and are proud to help fellow Texans with injuries caused by trucking accidents. Contact us online or by phone at 972-774-9800.