Commercial vehicles are a vital part of our national economy. Flatbeds and semi-trucks haul everything from furniture to produce, and tankers transport petroleum from Houston’s many refineries out to the rest of the country, allowing people to enjoy a high standard of living. However, commercial vehicles are also quite dangerous. They typically weigh 20 to 30 times what a passenger vehicle weighs—and for this reason, they can cause catastrophic injuries if they slam into a passenger vehicle on the road. If a trucker’s negligence injured you, the law may entitle you to compensation. Contact Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, today.
Driving While Impaired
Trucking is a stressful job. Truckers work long hours for average pay and live away from their families for long stretches of time. Unsurprisingly, some truckers turn to drugs or alcohol to help them deal with the stress and poor working conditions or stay awake. Truckers are known to take the following drugs while driving:
- Amphetamines (speed)
Each of these drugs can prove potentially fatal to other drivers on the road. For example, alcohol and marijuana can slow reaction times, reduce reaction times, and induce sleepiness. Cocaine and amphetamines can give drivers a temporary high but cause other health problems; they can also encourage truckers to engage in risky behaviors, such as speeding or tailgating.
The next time you drive to the Astrodome or the Museum of Fine Arts, check out how many people are either talking on their phone or texting/emailing behind the wheel. You’ll probably see quite a few who feel the urge to shoot off a message or read someone else’s text while driving. They should resist that urge. Texting or talking on the phone dramatically decreases your attention and increases the likelihood that you’ll get in an accident.
Studies show that distracted driving is even more dangerous for truckers. Consider the following statistics:
- Truckers who text behind the wheel are 23 times more likely to crash or get into a near wreck than an undistracted driver.
- A trucker who dials a phone is 5.9 times more likely to have an accident. By contrast, drivers of passenger cars who dial a phone are only 2.8 times more likely to have a wreck.
- A trucker who reaches for a cell phone increases his crash risk by 6.7 times. By contrast, the risk increases only 1.4 times for a car driver.
Fortunately, federal law prohibits using hand-held cell phones and texting or emailing while behind the wheel. Truckers can use a hand-held cell phone if they pull over to the side of the road, and they can use handless devices while driving. Nevertheless, some drivers take the chance of using a hand-held phone while out on the road, which can lead to injuries suffered by unsuspecting drivers.
Speeding and Other Aggressive Driving
Many truckers are under enormous stress to get to their destinations on short deadlines, which can cause them to speed and engage in other aggressive driving tactics: swerving, running red lights, tailgating, and rapidly changing lanes. When a tight deadline combines with drug or alcohol use, truckers can easily slam into an unsuspecting vehicle, and even your best defensive driving skills might not help you avoid a costly wreck.
Improperly Secured Cargo
When cargo is improperly secured, it can come flying off the truck and strike vehicles, forcing them off the road. According to an AAA report from 2014, flying debris caused more than 200,00 crashes that resulted in more than 500 deaths and another 39,000 injuries. Common flying debris includes:
- Sheet metal
- Tow trailers
Improperly loaded cargo can also unbalance a large truck as the cargo shifts around inside it. Because of this imbalance, trucks are at a greater risk of rolling over if gusts of wind hit them. Semi-trucks can also jackknife or spin around if the driver tries to make a sudden turn with imbalanced cargo.
To win your lawsuit, you’ll need evidence to convince a jury that the trucker was negligent. Truckers are unlikely to admit that they did drugs, sped, or carelessly secured cargo, so you’ll need a skilled traffic accident lawyer who knows how to ferret out the necessary evidence. For example, your lawyer will know how to subpoena telephone records to uncover whether the driver talked on the phone or sent a text message when the accident took place. Your traffic accident lawyer can also question the truck driver under oath in a deposition. A lawyer can also request medical records that might show a pattern of drug or alcohol addiction. All of this persuasive evidence could prove that a trucker’s negligence behind the wheel caused your accident.
Call a Houston Traffic Accident Lawyer Today
If a negligent truck driver injured you or your loved ones, the law might entitle you to compensation. The team at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, has helped countless innocent victims get the compensation they deserve so they can begin repairing their lives. Contact us today for a free, no-risk consultation with one of our attorneys at 800-898-4877. We don’t charge you any fees upfront, and we don’t get paid until you get paid.