According to the Department of Transportation, the maximum gross vehicle weight of large trucks, including combination trucks and trailers, is 80,000 pounds. A large truck is defined as any vehicle with a gross weight 10,000 pounds or greater. Trucks, both large and small, share the roadways with passenger vehicles. In fact, trucks accounted for approximately 10 percent of all vehicle miles traveled throughout the United States in 2009, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The number of trucks on the road, coupled with factors that increase the risk of a truck accident -- including longer stopping distances and larger blind spots as compared to passenger vehicles -- make it essential that truck drivers be extremely qualified before getting behind the wheel. Unfortunately, while truck drivers are required to get a special license to prove their qualifications, even having trained drivers cannot prevent all accidents from occurring. In fact, Texas truck accident statistics as well as federal truck accident statistics demonstrate that truck accidents are a major cause of injury and death throughout Texas and the United States.
Facts and Figures About Truck Accidents in Texas
Accidents, including fatal crashes, can happen at any time in Texas as, unfortunately, there were no deathless days on Texas roads during the entire year of 2011. While trucks are not involved in every crash, fatalities are very common in truck accidents due to the size discrepancy between large trucks and passenger vehicles, which have an average weight of only 3,000 to 5,000 pounds.
Reviewing Texas accident statistics can provide more information both on truck crashes that have occurred as well as on the risk of an accident in the state. According to the Texas Department of Transportation:
- 284 fatal truck crashes occurred in Texas in 2010. These crashes included both semi-trailer combinations as well as truck-trailer combination vehicles.
- 2,339 large truck crashes in Texas in 2010 caused serious injuries.
- 15,676 total crashes in the state of Texas involved large trucks in 2010.
- In 2011, 1.28 deaths occurred for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
- September 18 was the day in 2011 when the most people were killed in traffic crashes in Texas. 25 people were killed on that date.
- April was the deadliest month in 2011, with 287 people killed in Texas traffic crashes during that month.
- 46 percent of all people killed in traffic crashes in Texas in 2011 were not wearing seat belts or restraints at the time of the fatal car accident.
Truck Accidents Throughout the United States
Truck accidents are not just a problem in Texas. The national statistics provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicate that large trucks are involved in 7 percent of the total number of fatal crashes in the United States and in 2 percent of the total number of crashes that result in injury. Further, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that:
- 10,287 people died in crashes involving light trucks in 2009.
- 759,000 people were injured in crashes involving light trucks in 2009.
- 503 people died in crashes involving large trucks in 2009.
- 17,000 people were injured in crashes involving large trucks in 2009.
- In 2010, 76 percent of fatalities involving large trucks were individuals in vehicles other than the trucks. Ten percent of the fatalities were non-occupants and 15 percent of the individuals killed were in the truck at the time of the accident.
- In 2010, 73 percent of those injured in large truck crashes in 2010 were in vehicles other than the truck. Non-occupants accounted for 2 percent of individuals who were injured, and 25 percent of those injured were in the trucks at the time when the crash occurred.
Causes of Truck Accidents
In many of these accident cases, it was the truck driver who was at fault for causing the collision. In fact, as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration statistics show:
- Driver-related factors were responsible for 31 percent of the deadly crashes that involved large trucks.
- Speeding was the most common driver-related cause of large truck accidents and was named as a cause in 7 percent of crashes.
- Failure to remain in the proper lane was named as a cause in 6 percent of crashes involving large trucks.
- Distracted driving or lack of driver attention was responsible for 6 percent of fatal crashes involving large vehicles.
These accidents are preventable accidents that would not have occurred if the drivers had behaved with the caution expected of someone entrusted with the care of a large and dangerous vehicle. Victims of truck driver negligence have legal rights, and an experienced personal injury attorney at Roberts & Roberts can provide assistance to truck accident victims in enforcing their rights. Roberts & Roberts Law Firm can be contacted for a free consultation at 903-597-6000 or by filling out an online contact form.