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Why Does Texas Have More Truck Accidents Than Any Other State?

Houston semi-truck accident lawyers explain the higher number of crashes

Commercial truck accidents in Texas happen at an alarming rate. In fact, more collisions occur in the Lone Star State involving tractor-trailers, delivery trucks, dump trucks, and other commercial vehicles than in any other state in the country.

Why is that the case? Why do so many truck accidents occur in Texas? How does Texas compare to other states? What are common causes of truck crashes in Texas? And is the problem getting worse in Texas?

The Houston semi-truck accident attorneys at Smith & Hassler explain why truck accidents are so common in Texas, as well as what legal options exist for truck accident injury victims in the state.

How common are truck accidents in Texas?

The numbers are clear – commercial truck accidents occur regularly in Texas. Each year, there are more than 19,000 truck accidents occur in the state, causing more than 7,500 injuries and nearly 700 fatalities per year, according to accident data compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

To put such numbers in perspective, there are roughly 166,000 commercial truck accidents throughout the country each year. That means roughly 8.7 percent of all commercial truck accidents each year occur in Texas.

As for truck accident injuries in Texas, its 7,500 injuries represent more than 10 percent of the 76,000 truck accident injuries that occur each year nationwide. In terms of truck accident fatalities, Texas’ 700 deaths work out to more than 7.5 percent of the 5,300 truck accident fatalities per year nationwide.

How does Texas compare to other states for truck accidents?

Another way to understand just how bad truck accidents are in Texas is to compare its numbers to those in other states. After Texas, the state that often has the most commercial truck accidents is California.

Many years, California has more than 13,000 commercial truck accidents, resulting in more than 4,100 injuries and 450 fatalities. Compared to Texas, California has far fewer truck accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

In addition, Texas’ numbers are even more alarming considering that far fewer people live in Texas compared to California. Texas has 30 million residents, while California’s population is roughly 39 million residents.

What type of truck accidents are the most common in Texas?

While many types of commercial truck accidents occur in Texas, crashes involving semi-trucks or tractor-trailers are especially common. Of the 19,000 commercial truck accidents that occur each year on average in Texas, more than 15,900 of these accidents involved semi-trucks. That’s more than 83 percent of all commercial truck accidents in the state.

No other state in the country even comes close to having that many 18-wheeler accidents. The state with the second-highest number of semi-truck accidents is California (9,300 each year) followed by Florida (5,800 semi-truck accidents per year).

As for other specific types of truck accidents, common crashes in Texas often include:

  • Jackknife accidents
  • Rollover truck accidents
  • Rear-end accidents
  • Head-on collisions.

What are the most common causes of Texas truck accidents?

There are several reasons why there are so many truck accidents in Texas. Some of the most common causes in the state include:

  • Speeding truck drivers who drive much too fast, especially on congested highways and rural roads.
  • Tired truck drivers who fall asleep at the wheel, which is especially common in Texas since many long-haul truckers pass through the state while driving across the country late at night.
  • Drunk truck drivers, a common problem in Texas, which has one of the highest drunk driving fatality rates of any state in the country. Each year, more than 42 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities in Texas occur due to drunk drivers. And those numbers have only gotten worse in recent years as the number of drunk driving fatalities in Texas continues to increase each year.
  • Distracted truck drivers, who are often trying to talk to dispatchers, look up directions or operate sophisticated electronic devices while driving a large commercial truck. The result – many commercial truck drivers are not paying attention and often cause serious or fatal truck accidents.
  • Inexperienced truck drivers who don’t know how to safely operate a large truck, which can be catastrophic in many cases. This is especially true if inexperienced truck drivers don’t leave enough space between vehicles, go too fast around corners or drive too fast during hazardous weather or in heavy traffic.
  • Poorly maintained trucks, which can range from truck brake issues, tire blowouts caused by thin tire treads or mechanical failures that result in a collision.

It’s also important to remember that the vast majority of commercial truck accidents in Texas involve semi-trucks or 18-wheelers. This likely explains why there are so many commercial truck accident injuries and fatalities in Texas. Semi-trucks are significantly larger than most vehicles. A fully-loaded tractor-trailer can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, which is 20 times more than most cars, which weigh 4,000 pounds on average.

What laws govern commercial truck drivers in Texas?

There are many state and federal laws that apply to commercial truck drivers and trucking companies that operate in Texas.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (Texas DPS) oversees the state’s commercial truck drivers and trucking companies. Texas has many state regulations governing commercial trucks and truck drivers, including rules concerning the size, weight and length of commercial trucks.

At the federal level, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has many regulations governing commercial truck drivers and trucking companies nationwide. Many of these regulations can be found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Who enforces commercial truck laws in Texas?

When collisions occur involving commercial trucks in Texas, several different law enforcement agencies investigate. Like other motor vehicle accidents, local police and state troopers from the Texas Highway Patrol often investigate such collisions.

However, if the commercial truck accident results in a serious injury or fatality, the collision will likely be investigated by additional state and federal investigators. Specifically, investigators from the Texas Department of Public Safety and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) often investigate all serious commercial truck accidents.

What legal rights do truck accident injury victims have in Texas?

If you or a loved one was involved in a truck accident caused by a commercial truck driver in Texas, you have many legal rights as an injury victim. First and foremost, you should be financially compensated for all financial losses as a result of your truck accident.

This is because Texas has an at-fault insurance system or “tort” system when it comes to motor vehicle accidents. This means the at-fault party is legally responsible for paying for all your accident-related expenses, which can add up fast in many cases.

Who’s responsible for paying for commercial truck accidents in Texas?

Commercial truck accidents are different than many other motor vehicle accidents. This is especially true in cases involving semi-trucks with a detached trailer. Along with the truck driver’s insurance company, you may be able to obtain financial compensation from one or more of the following individuals or businesses if there is evidence that their actions contributed to the accident. Such individuals or businesses can include:

  • The truck driver, especially if the driver owns the truck and is responsible for maintaining it.
  • The commercial trucking company the driver works for, especially if the company knowingly hired a driver with a bad driving history or an invalid commercial driver’s license (CDL).
  • The company that owns the truck’s trailer, which is often a different company.
  • A business that loaded the truck, especially if the truck was not loaded correctly, resulting in the truck causing a collision.
  • A truck part manufacturer, especially if defective truck brakes or a tire blowout caused your truck accident.

Why should I hire a Houston truck accident attorney?

Collisions caused by commercial truck drivers can quickly turn into complicated legal cases. This is because there’s often a lot of money at stake. And rather than simply paying for your accident, many times the at-fault party will do everything it can to avoid responsibility. This is why it’s critical that you have an experienced attorney on your side who knows exactly what to do in such situations in Texas.

Our experienced Houston truck accident lawyers at Smith & Hassler won’t waste a second getting right to work on your truck accident injury claim or lawsuit. We know what evidence to look for and which legal strategies can be the most effective. That’s why we have such a strong track record of success.

Get the Houston law firm that gets results. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with a Houston truck accident attorney who means business. We have four offices conveniently located throughout Texas, including three offices in Houston. Our lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. That means you only have to pay us if we secure a financial settlement or verdict for your truck accident case.

Click here to download a printable PDF of this article, “Why Does Texas Have More Truck Accidents Than Any Other State?”

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