Commercial and 18 wheeler accidents can be the most severe accidents given the weight and size of these vehicles. Oftentimes, the damage done to the other vehicle is catastrophic and most vehicles are totaled. Unfortunately, these accidents usually involve injuries, particularly when the vehicle that is hit is a sedan or smaller vehicle. In Texas, there is an enormous number of 18 wheelers on the road given that Texas is a central state for transportation to the Gulf of Mexico and other states.
Across the United States, approximately 500,000 accidents involving 18 wheelers occur each year. It is estimated that approximately 10,000 of these result in fatalities. Some of the most common causes of 18 wheeler accidents include:
- Driver distraction;
- Driver fatigue;
- Improperly trained drivers;
- Failure to follow traffic signals;
- Failure to control speed;
- Cell phone or Bluetooth use while driving; and
- Sleep apnea.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established stringent rules for drivers operating commercial motor vehicles or 18 wheelers. These regulations provide guidelines for use of cell phones, driver hours and employment of drivers. Commercial drivers must obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in order to operate a commercial motor vehicle or 18- wheeler. Additionally, drivers are required to log their hours in a logbook and provide them to their employers. Drivers are only permitted to drive for approximately 11 hours for the 14-hour consecutive driver on duty time. Unfortunately, some drivers and companies cut corners and place other drivers on the road in jeopardy when they knowingly permit drivers to drive longer hours. Oftentimes, deliveries need to be made on schedule and companies place profits over safety.
Another common cause of 18 wheeler accidents in sleep apnea. More than 18 million Americans suffer from the condition known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea results in disruptive sleep patterns in which those suffering from the condition experience significant fatigue during the day. This can be extremely dangerous to other drivers on the road. Many drivers are not aware that they have the condition and do not report sleep disruptions or problems to their employers.
In recent years, there has been an increase in 18 wheeler accidents involving drivers who are distracted by their cell phones or tablets. The surge in cell phone use has caused the FMCSA to implement very strict guidelines regarding cell phone use for commercial drivers. Any dialing on the cell phone is considered “texting” under the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations and may results in suspension of a Commercial Driver’s License.
Our law firm has extensive experience assisting clients who have been injured in a commercial vehicle accident or 18 wheeler accident case. We are diligent in obtaining relevant information to prove negligence on behalf of the driver including driver history, cell phone records, criminal history, medical records, employment history and traffic violations. We work with some of the best experts in the industry to ensure that your case is properly handled. Please call our law firm for a free consultation.