Truck Accidents in Texas Still Common
Tuesday February 02, 2010
In recent years, fatalities involving large trucks have fallen slowly, despite many safety advances like airbags and antilock brakes. Ten people were injured near Dallas late last year in a chain-reaction accident involving a semi-truck and six other vehicles. A Budweiser tractor-trailer had been traveling eastbound on I-20 when it swerved out of the eastbound lanes and through the cables separating the eastbound and westbound lanes.
This caused an SUV traveling eastbound next to the tractor-trailer to follow the big rig into westbound traffic where they collided with five other vehicles. The Budweiser semi-truck jack-knifed in the westbound lanes as a result of the wreck and caused the other vehicles to crash into it. The interstate was shut down for nearly three hours and 10 people were sent to area hospitals.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, large trucks were involved in 4066 fatal crashes in 2008. This figure represents 11 percent of all driving-related fatalities for that year. Nearly a quarter of drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes had at least one prior speeding conviction.
Texas had the highest number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2008. There were 421 large trucks involved in fatal accidents in Texas, which represented over 10 percent of the nation's total.
A recent poll by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 35 percent of drivers considered the roads less safe than they did five years ago. According to the foundation, this drop in confidence was largely due to the increase in behind-the-wheel multitasking.
The Austin City Council passed an ordinance in October that makes it illegal to view, send, or compose electronic messages while driving an automobile. The ordinance defines electronic messages as any text-based communication, command or request to access an Internet site. The new law takes effect on January 1, 2010.
Each violation will be a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $500 and can be appealed in Municipal Court. Penalties could increase if a violator is caught engaging in another dangerous driving behavior, such as speeding. Drivers will still be permitted to text when their vehicle is stopped.
A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that semi-truck drivers who text while driving are 23 more times likely to crash than those who are not texting. The study found that drivers typically take their eyes off the road for nearly five seconds while texting.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 87 percent of people consider drivers engaged in texting or e-mailing to pose a serious safety threat. This is close to the number of people who consider drunken driving a threat.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident involving a large truck, it is important to contact an experienced attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.