Like with any car accident, nobody gets behind the wheel and expects a life-changing crash with an 18-wheeler. These are some of the common causes of 18-wheeler truck accidents:
- Driver fatigue or exhaustion — Unfortunately, long hours behind the wheel are part of the job description for a truck driver. Despite both federal and Texas state regulations on driving hour logbooks, timesheets, etc., driver fatigue remains a major danger that could lead to an 18-wheeler crash. Truck drivers are only human, which is why they are regulated to prevent fatigue or exhaustion.
- Hours of service violations — Theoretical regulations don’t mean much if the driver or truck company intentionally violates hours of service limits. One study of truck crash causation found that 10 percent of truck drivers who crash felt under pressure and 7 percent were overly tired — this can be a deadly combination. Because of this, employers may be at fault for the crash if they have encouraged unsafe driving practices or made the truck driver feel like their job was at stake unless they push their hours of service beyond the limits of regulation.
- Excessive speed and other truck driver errors — Hours of service violations are not the only way drivers may respond when they feel under pressure. They may also push their speed limits to get to their destination faster and make good time for their employer or customer. In many truck crash cases (19 percent), the driver is unfamiliar with the route and may not see the sharp turn up ahead while trying to figure out where they are. Once they see the curve, it may be too late to slow down their speed.
- Faulty brakes or other mechanical failure — Almost a third (27 percent) of truck crashes involve brake problems, and these sorts of mechanical failures can be the fault of both the truck company (if they have not properly maintained the truck) or even the manufacturer of the brakes and other parts. Improper braking can cause an 18-wheeler to lose control in what is known as “jackknifing,” when the trailer swings around like the blade of a pocket knife. In poor road conditions (e.g. on an icy bridge), this can cause a serious crash involving multiple vehicles. Other mechanical failures can include tires, steering wheel, lights, transmission, etc. After the crash, a truck accident law firm can investigate whether the truck company maintained adequate safety inspections on its fleet
- Other vehicles make mistakes — In other cases, a vehicle in front of the 18-wheeler may stop short or slow down unexpectedly, and because of the size and weight of the truck it takes longer for an 18-wheeler to slow down (about 45 feet further to come to a complete stop than an ordinary vehicle). .
- Unsecured freight or shifting cargo — Unlike regular vehicles, a truck is designed to carry heavy loads across the country. When freight is not properly secured, however, it can upset the balance of the truck or cause it to tip over.
These are some of the most common factors that cause large truck accidents, and the job of a truck accident attorney is to investigate thoroughly and determine what exactly went wrong and who is at fault. If you’ve been involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler or other big truck, contact the Law Office of Ryan C. Solis, PLLC, at (956) 686-9600 to schedule your free legal consultation today.