Even on the most beautiful of days and most pleasant of drives, there are many things on the road that can potentially put a little fear into our hearts. Random debris, potholes, and construction can all make us a little wary whenever we encounter them. However, there are fewer things that cause concern than an 18-wheeler. Just the size of these vehicles makes many drivers afraid to be on the road with them.
Your Houston truck accident attorneys at Lapeze & Johns have plenty of legal experience dealing with commercial vehicle accidents and we know that this danger is very real. These trucks, in addition to their large size, are also very complex machines. Any breakdown in any one of their many systems can quickly lead to a domino-effect of breakdowns – and ultimately – an accident.
The following are some of the most common causes of 18-wheeler accidents:
Tire blowouts and other related failures are responsible for the second most accidents involving commercial trucks. This should not come as a surprise as tires require regular maintenance and checks for air pressures levels.
Too much pressure in tires can lead to excess heat building up, which will wear down the sidewall of tires and can lead to serious issues. On the other hand, not enough air pressure will make a tire bend in ways that it was not intended to, resulting in a strain to the tire’s material and potential blowout if not properly inflated.
In the case of a blowout, an 18-wheeler may swerve or jackknife which can cause it to veer into and obstruct multiple lanes of traffic simultaneously. This type of scenario is dangerous whether nearby traffic is all heading in the same direction or not.
As important as it is for drivers of passenger vehicles to regularly get their brakes checked, it is even truer and necessary for those operating 18-wheelers and other large commercial trucks.
Brake system failures account for a large chunk of the total accidents among large trucks, nearly 30 percent. These breakdowns can quickly turn any 18-wheeler into a runaway battering ram from which a regular passenger vehicle has almost no protection.
It is legally required that the owners and drivers of these vehicles in a company’s fleet regularly inspect the status of their brake systems and immediately address them. Failure to do is putting a lot more than just their trucks and your cars at risk.
The truth is that plenty of drivers are a little slack about using their blinkers or checking them. We’ve all had those moments when someone merges into our lane without any visual warning and causes us to brake quickly and unexpectedly.
In those moments, it probably doesn’t matter to us that the other driver may not have working lights. The danger in that situation was real.
Large trucks like 18-wheelers need these on-the-road visual cues to be working more than other drivers. Without them functioning properly, they can easily run another driver right off the road or into other cars when changing lanes.
Commercial vehicles also regularly use their warning lights when transporting oversized loads. If there is trouble with a bulb or circuit in their lighting system, these lights may not work correctly and put drivers behind them at risk of smashing into them during sudden stops.
Commercial trucks have their weights regulated to avoid issues by a system called gross vehicle weight rating. This system places a maximum weight that these vehicles are allowed to carry or tow. In the U.S., the limit is 80,000 lb. without special permits for oversized or overweight loads.
Despite these restrictions and additional legal measures in place to protect other cars and trucks on the road, the fact remains that not every trucking company complies. The bottom line is that it often pays more to pass these weight regulations and this creates unsafe driving conditions.
The extra weight puts additional stress and wear on tires, affecting both air pressure levels and making it harder for the vehicle to stop. It all adds up to unnecessary risks for a short-term reward.
Just like accidents between regular passenger vehicles are caused by negligence on one of the driver’s part, commercial vehicle drivers are no different.
A speeding 18-wheeler can take over 500 feet to come to a stop and anything in the way before then is in serious danger. Commercial drivers will also sometimes make turns from the wrong lane, illegal u-turns, or go the wrong way on a street in an effort to save time. A turn made without a proper check can result in other cars and trucks being run into by a commercial truck.
Distracted driving continues to be a rising problem for drivers of all types of vehicles, skill levels, and ages. The focus has largely centered around texting and other ways of using technology but the term covers a much wider set of behaviors.
Any other electronics, including adjusting the radio, can take a driver’s eyes off the road. Eating and falling asleep at the wheel also are dangerous on the road and are both side effects of a profession that requires long hours on the road. The fact remains that being a truck driver is a career that is very lucrative mainly for one reason: it is a difficult job that requires constant attention to detail every single day.
There is hope and help if you or a loved one has been the victim of a large truck accident. The Houston car accident attorneys at Lapeze & Johns are here to make sure that the negligent companies and drivers are held responsible for the pain they have caused.
Regardless of how careful YOU may be on the road, the sad fact remains that accidents involving 18-wheelers still occur and lives are damaged in the process. If you’ve been injured in a large truck accident, you are not alone.