It is mentioned in “thebentonlawfirm.com” website that in 2012, crashes involving semi-trailers throughout the state of Texas resulted to 389 deaths. This is a drastic increase from 2011, which saw only 303 fatal semi-trailer crashes. Crash data are compiled by the Texas Department of Transportation in an effort to target the causes of fatal motor vehicle accidents and work to put a stop to these accidents.
Based on traffic safety facts data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during the same year, large trucks that were involved in crashes totaled to 287,000; these crashes resulted to 3,757 deaths and 88,000 injuries.
Semi-trailers, also called big rigs or 18-wheelers, make up 2 million of the more than 15 million trucks operating in the U.S. It cannot be denied that their very large size and heavy weight are threats considering the damage these can cause in case of accidents. Due to this, the federal government strictly requires that those who wish to drive a semi-trailer should have special training, posses the necessary skills and pass a series of tests that deal with the proper operation and handling of this types of vehicle before he/she can be issued a commercial driver's license (CDL).
After earning a CDL, a driver is expected to comply with federal laws enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Department of Transportation, such as: regular checks and maintenance of truck; use only of truck parts that comply with federal standards, especially tires and brakes parts; observance of the hours of service, which is the allowed maximum number or driving hours allowed of drivers; and other laws that will help ensure avoidance of road crashes. All these mandates, as well as the special training and tests, are aimed at ensuring the overall safety of interstate commercial driving.
Though a number of studies show that 75% - 80% of all truck accidents can be blamed on drivers of passenger vehicles, the FMCSA maintains that accidents are due to truck drivers' fault. These faults include: driver fatigue; falling asleep behind the wheel; driving too fast for road conditions; impairment due to alcohol, prescription drugs or over-the-counter-drugs; not being familiar with the road or the truck; inattention; distracted driving; incorrect way of attaching the trailer; failure to double-check blind spots; failure to ensure that the brakes are in good working condition; and, depowering of the front brakes, which is done to lessen wear and tear of tires and breaks.
The trucking industry plays a significant role in this nation’s economic growth; however, it comes with a high price – the high risk of serious, even fatal, injuries in the event of accidents. If the truck driver is the one at fault in the accident, then victims have the right to seek compensation to help them face the financial blows resulting from it. It would be best for victims to consult with highly-skilled truck accident or personal injury lawyers when seeking this compensation.