While commercial trucks are involved in only a small percentage of all accidents, they pack a high fatality rate. A passenger vehicle is no match for an enormous 18-wheeler. So when these accidents occur, tragedies almost inevitably ensue.
Approximately half a million trucks get in accidents across the United States in a given year, resulting in about 130,000 injuries and at least 5,000 fatalities.
The overwhelming majority of fatalities happen to people in passenger vehicles hit by trucks. Higher risk times are days and weekends. The majority of accidents involving trucks happen in rural areas.
In 2010, Texas suffered 15,676 commercial truck accidents, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Of these, 284 had fatalities and 2,339 resulted in grave injuries.
Causes of accidents
Truckers are under a high amount of pressure to deliver their loads quickly. Sometimes safety is compromised. Causes may be related to the driver’s condition and behavior, such as:
- Distracted drivers who are texting, using cellphones or eating while driving
- Intoxicated drivers
- Falling asleep at the wheel instead of pulling over and napping
Troubles also spring from the condition of the truck or the load it’s carrying:
- The load can be unbalanced or otherwise unsafe
- Tires or other equipment could be defective
- Trucks may be improperly maintained.
The trucking company is sometimes to blame. It might be negligent in its background checks of new drivers. Or drivers may have insufficient training. In Texas, the oil and gas boom result in more commercial vehicle traffic on the roads. If you drive around drilling sites, oil fields and shale plays, such as Barnett in the Bend Arch-Fort Worth Basin, or Eagle Ford in Dallas County, you’ll see lots of truckers on the road, some more experienced than others. A shortage of professional oil field truck drivers can make these dangerous areas. And the damage these oversized vehicles cause to rural roads makes conditions unsafe for Texas drivers traversing these regions.
Types of Serious Accidents
Some of the worst accidents happen when passenger vehicles rear-end commercial trucks. These types of crashes are about four times as likely to kill passengers as when the truck rear-ends the car. Passenger cars are also more likely than trucks to cross a road’s center line, resulting in head-on collisions.