Who Is At Fault In A Car Accident

Who Is At Fault In A Car Accident

It can be difficult to determine who is at fault in a car accident, but determining fault is important. Even minor fender-benders can wind up being costly due to vehicle damage and any injuries that may have resulted from the crash. In the case of more serious car accidents, especially those resulting in severe injuries or even fatalities, the costs can rise astronomically. Thus, for the individuals involved in the crash, as well as for insurance companies, attorneys and courtroom juries, it is extremely important to have all the facts and know the applicable laws to determine liability.

When multiple parties are involved in a crash and the circumstances of the collision are unclear, however, there may not be an obvious answer to the question of who is at fault. Which driver made a mistake? Was one driver negligent, or were both at fault? Was either driver speeding or otherwise breaking local traffic laws?

These are important questions to answer thoroughly, even if it seems obvious at first glance who was responsible. Insurance companies require evidence to determine who is liable for the damages, injuries or deaths sustained in a car accident. Evidence must also be presented to members of the jury or a judge when a car accident case goes to court.

One of the best types of evidence in establishing car accident liability is an official police report regarding the accident. When a police officer visits the scene of an accident, he or she must file a crash report, and that report will contain information that will be important in determining liability. If one or both drivers were speeding at the time of the crash, for example, that is an important detail the officer will include in the report. The officer will also include any related evidence, such as length of tire skid marks on the road, paint found on one vehicle’s dents that matches the color of the other vehicle, statements from witnesses who saw the accident occur and so on.

Car accident determining fault by location of damage

Car Accident: Determining Fault by Location of Damage

One common method of establishing liability after a car accident is determining fault by location of damage. Inspecting where the damage occurred on the vehicle can shed light on the collision, including the events that led up to it and who was the responsible party.

Police officers and insurance adjusters who assess damages after a car accident often use principles of physics to piece together clues provided by how, where and how extensively the vehicles involved in the accident were damaged. These individuals can look at dents and scratches on a vehicle, compare them with any injuries sustained by drivers or passengers involved in the crash and essentially trace the clues backward in time to construct a theory regarding how the crash occurred. They can also use these same clues to rule out implausible crash scenarios—ways the collision cannot have occurred.

For example, when a collision occurs between two cars traveling toward each other on two sides of the same roadway, and the crash leaves one car with a damaged front end and the other with a damaged passenger-side door, the clues suggest that the driver of the car with the dented door was attempting to make a left turn in front of oncoming traffic.

Another example of determining fault by location of damage is a collision at a stop sign that leaves one vehicle with a dented front end and the other with a damaged rear bumper. In this case, it can be surmised that the first car probably crashed into the second from behind.

Car accident hit from behind settlement

Car Accident: Hit-From-Behind Settlement

Having another vehicle hit you from behind, a crash caused by someone making a left turn and an accident which happens when the driver is changing lanes are among the most common types of auto and truck accident causes. In the case of rear-end collisions, the driver whose vehicle crashes into the back of the vehicle in front of them is almost always at fault. In most cases, evidence for liability in a rear-end collision is both clear and simple: One vehicle has a dented rear bumper that corresponds with the other vehicle’s dented front end. If the impact occurred at a stop sign or a red stop light, or if the driver of the rear-ended vehicle suffers from whiplash because of the crash, these are even more compelling bits of evidence in establishing liability and the need for compensation for the injured driver. All of these factors can be used to determine what type of settlement is appropriate.

There are rare cases in which the driver of the vehicle that was struck from behind is at least partially at fault. If the rear-ended car contributed in some significant way to the likelihood of an accident happening, it may be determined that the driver shared a portion of the liability for the crash. In this case, that driver would not be entitled to as much monetary compensation, even if they were seriously injured.

An example of this would be the rear-ended vehicle having non-functioning tail lights, particularly if the crash occurred at night. Another possibility would be if the driver of the rear-ended vehicle stopped, due to a breakdown or flat tire, in the middle of a high-speed roadway or in a low-visibility area (for example, just past the bend of a curve), and then failed to move the car out of the roadway to safety.

Car accident fault left turn

Car Accident Fault: Left Turn

Collisions that occur when a left-turning vehicle is struck by an oncoming vehicle going straight are another common type of car accident. As with rear-end collisions, there is one driver who will almost always be found to be at fault; in this case, the at-fault driver is almost always the driver who was turning left. That individual has the burden to use his or her turn signal, observe the roadway—including any pedestrians and all other approaching vehicles—and wait for a proper break in traffic before completing the turn safely.

There are two instances in which the oncoming vehicle that was going straight could be found to be at fault for the collision, whether in addition to or instead of the driver of the left-turning vehicle. If the driver of the car that was going straight ran a red light or was going significantly over the speed limit, that person is more likely to be found at least partially liable for the collision.

Who is at fault in a car accident changing lanes

Who is At Fault in a Car Accident: Changing Lanes

State traffic laws are integral to determining who is at fault in a car accident. Traffic laws vary from state to state regarding many aspects of driving, including legal lane changes. In Texas, for example, drivers are required to signal when they are changing lanes. If a driver causes an accident due to changing lanes unsafely, illegally or without signaling, he or she is likely at least to share responsibility for the accident, if not bear sole liability.

Car Accident: Car Owner-Related Liability and Self-Driving Cars

If you lend your car to a friend or family member and that person is involved in a crash, whether you will be held liable for damages and compensation depends on the specific situation, along with the particulars of your insurance coverage. Generally speaking, if you have given someone else permission to use your car, that individual is covered by your insurance policy in the event of a collision, unless your policy specifically excludes him or her based on age, driving record or other factors.

If someone, whether a friend, family member or stranger, takes your car without your permission and winds up in an accident, it can be hard to prove beyond any doubt that you didn’t give them permission. In that case, you may end up being at least partially liable for damages. You are also likely to be held liable for an accident if you loaned your car to someone who was unlicensed or who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.

Self-driving cars are increasingly common on the road, and they present unique considerations and concerns regarding accident liability. If a driverless car is involved in a collision that results in vehicular damage, passenger injuries or both, who is to be held responsible for damages and compensation when there was no human driver? What happens when a case goes to trial when it comes to these new technologies? Only time will tell.

Since most self-driving vehicles currently on the road are still partly under the control of human drivers, the majority of crashes involving these vehicles are caused by human error. Thus, at this point in time, liability still falls on the people involved in the accident. In the future, however, as automation technology increases and humans become less and less involved in operating self-driving vehicles, the manufacturers of these vehicles are likely to be held accountable more often for damages and compensation in the event of a crash.

Slack Davis Sanger Can Help You Secure Compensation

If you have been involved in a car accident, or if someone else has an accident while driving your car, your best course of action is to contact a knowledgeable attorney who can advise you regarding your specific situation. In any car accident liability case, the burden of proof is on the drivers to provide evidence regarding liability issues for the insurance companies or the judge and jury if the case goes to trial.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, or if you lost a family member due to a fatal car accident in which the other driver was at fault, contact Slack Davis Sanger. Our attorneys are leaders in personal injury law, and we are experienced, caring and committed advocates for our clients. We are skilled in determining liability in car accident case and pursuing the full and fair compensation you deserve.

Cell Phone Laws For Truck Drivers

cell phone laws for truck drivers

Far too many car crashes on U.S. roadways are caused by a single culprit: distracted driving due to cell phone use behind the wheel. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, cell phone use plays a role in 27 percent of car crashes. That’s over a quarter of all roadway accidents—a staggering statistic that really shouldn’t be any surprise. Most drivers are aware of the dangers of distracted driving, including the fact that it just isn’t safe to text, make calls or use smartphone apps while behind the wheel. Even hands-free cell phone use isn’t safe; anything that pulls a driver’s focus and attention away from the road is a hazard.

Distracted driving is an issue for all drivers, and the ubiquity of cell phones makes this especially true these days. Over 90% of adults have a cell phone, and most people have incorporated their phones into nearly every part of their daily life, including their time on the road. Of course, having a cell phone available while you’re driving can be a smart safety measure; it’s your lifeline if you have a flat tire, run out of gas or simply get lost. The key is using your cell phone correctly—meaning, pulling over so you can use your phone safely.

What many drivers may not know, however, is whether cell phone laws for truck drivers are the same as those for non-commercial drivers. Do these drivers who carry a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and operate commercial vehicles, such as large trucks or passenger buses, follow a different set of rules and regulations than other drivers on the road? Are they held to a higher legal standard than other drivers, and if so, are penalties higher for CDL drivers who are involved in traffic accidents? Let’s explore the facts.

Cell phone policy for CDL Drivers

A History of Cell Phone Policy for CDL Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) defines driver distraction as “the diversion of attention from activities critical for safe driving to a competing activity,” such as cell phone use. The FMCSA also notes that driver distraction “increases your risk of getting into a crash.” Distracted driving is a serious problem among all drivers, but due to the size and weight of most commercial vehicles, accidents involving these larger trucks are more likely to be serious or even fatal.

Since it takes more skill and experience to drive a commercial vehicle than to drive a smaller, non-commercial vehicle, drivers of commercial trucks, passenger buses and school buses are required to have a different kind of driver’s license: CDLs. There are three classes of CDL (Classes A, B and C) that are based on several considerations, including the vehicle’s weight as well as whether the driver is hauling a trailer, transporting hazardous materials or transporting more than 15 passengers. These license classes and distinctions were established in 1986 by the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

Legally speaking, CDL drivers are held to a higher standard on the road than other drivers. If a CDL driver commits a serious traffic violation, even while operating a non-commercial vehicle, it could jeopardize his or her CDL certification. Similarly, depending on individual state laws, truck and bus drivers are often subject to different laws, policies and regulations regarding cell phone use than other drivers.

This makes sense when you consider that researchers have found CDL drivers to be three times more likely to be involved in an accident when they reach for an object while driving, and six times more likely when they dial a handheld cell phone while driving. The Federation of American Scientists has reported a steady increase since 2009 in rates of truck accidents, injuries and fatalities, and a 2009 study found that 71% of crashes involving large trucks occurred due to truck driver distraction. That’s nearly three-quarters of all commercial truck accidents! Studies also show that large trucks and buses are responsible for a disproportionately large number of fatal traffic accidents. While commercial vehicles make up only 4% of the nation’s registered vehicles, they are involved in 12% of all traffic fatalities.

Clearly, these statistics show a real need for comprehensive regulations that improve road safety for all drivers.

CDL cell phone law

Are CDL Cell Phone Laws Working?

While cell phone laws differ from state to state, the majority of all U.S. states and territories have enacted various legal limits on cell phone use while driving, and those limits vary based on driver type. For example, in 47 states, all drivers, including CDL drivers, are banned from text messaging while a car is in motion, while 20 states have banned all cell phone use by school bus drivers.

Starting in 2012, all interstate truck and bus drivers were banned by federal law from any handheld cell phone use while behind the wheel. Additional federal regulations were passed a year later, in 2013, to limit both truck sizes and driving time to make roads safer, but many of those regulations have since been suspended. Without adequate limits on their time spent behind the wheel and working under the pressures of tight deadlines and low wages, CDL drivers are more likely to ignore cell phone usage laws and use their phones while driving. In fact, some commercial trucking companies allow or even require their drivers to use cell phones while on the road, despite the fact that this is both unsafe and illegal. Together, these factors create unsafe driving conditions for everyone on the road.

Commercial trucking companies and CDL drivers should be extra careful about cell phone use while driving, because reports in recent years have shown an increase in cell phone-related car crashes. As of 2015, texting-related crashes were estimated to have increased for three years straight. By contrast, crashes that involved talking on a cell phone were estimated to have decreased slightly over the same period. That said, the overall rate of cell phone-related crashes has gone up over time.

Furthermore, not all states are currently in compliance with federal laws regarding CDL drivers and cell phone usage. In Iowa, for example, commercial vehicle drivers will receive only a general citation for violating federal cell phone use laws, rather than a specific one. State and federal efforts to improve road safety, however, are ongoing. If state legislation introduced in Iowa is passed in 2018, Iowan CDL drivers will be more likely to lose their commercial licenses for a set of violations, including texting while driving.

Fine for texting while driving in a commercial vehicle

Can Truck Drivers be Fined for Texting While Driving in a Commercial Vehicle?

You might be wondering whether there is a fine for texting while driving in a commercial vehicle. The 2012 law discussed in the previous section bans commercial vehicle drivers from all forms of cell phone use, including texting, while operating a commercial vehicle—but what are the legal consequences of violating that ban?

Truck drivers who are caught violating the provisions of the law are subject to the following:

  • Federal fines of up to $2,750 for each offense
  • Suspension of their CDL after multiple offenses
  • Suspension of their CDL after two or more serious traffic violations

Commercial vehicle companies also face repercussions for violations of the above law. Companies that allow their drivers to use handheld cell phones while driving are subject to fines of up to $11,000.

FMCSA Distracted driving

FMCSA Distracted Driving Prevention Tips

Commercial drivers who text while driving are 23.2 times more likely to be in a dangerous situation, whether that is an accident or a close call, when compared to drivers who do not. FMSCA rules prohibit drivers from sending an email, pressing more than one button to use a voice assistant, reaching for a device or holding a phone while driving. Regulations apply to CDL drivers when driving on a roadway or when the vehicle is stationary because of traffic of temporary delays.

To keep attention on the road and to be compliant with the law, CDL drivers should:

  • Make sure that a phone is in close enough proximity to use while the driver is safely buckled in with his or her seat belt.
  • Utilize the speaker function or an earbud.
  • Use voice commands to gather any needed information.
  • Place the phone so that hands-free features can be used and the driver does not have to do anything more than press a single button.

Over 70% of accidents involving large trucks occurred while the truck driver was engaged in an activity other than driving. To avoid these preventable crashes, FMCSA issued the following tips for commercial drivers:

  • Avoid letting any objects which are outside your truck distract you from the task at hand. This might mean ignoring buildings, billboards and people in your peripheral vision. Even mirrors and parts of a truck can be distracting, so making any needed adjustments before you get on the road can help make for a safer trip.
  • Refrain from texting while driving your commercial vehicle. FMCSA regulations were first put in place after troubling statistics were released in a 2009 study on driver distraction in the trucking industry. President Obama found the research so convincing that he later issued an executive order to ban federal employees from texting while driving while on government business. To avoid temptation, truckers can put phones on silent or turn them off completely while driving.
  • Do not use a portable data terminal while driving. Dispatching devices can allow a truck driver to communicate, maintain logs and help navigate. However, these devices take a driver’s eyes off the road, just like texting. In fact, one study showed that CDL drivers were nine times as likely to be put in a dangerous position while using a dispatching device.
  • Hold off on dialing a phone while you are driving. Finding and entering in a phone number takes your eyes off the road for a long enough period to have a crash. In fact, a recent study showed that dialing while driving increased the chance of a near collision or an actual wreck by three times. If you must make a call, pull over and keep your phone call brief. In situations where you need to make a call, use a voice assistant to make the call for you from your contacts.
  • Abstain from writing, reading or using a paper map while driving. As with dialing a phone, a driver can take his or her eyes off the road long enough to cause an accident while doing these activities. Most trucks are equipped with GPS systems, which can help with navigation and help you keep safe, provided you enter your destination into the device before you begin driving.
  • Skip food and drink while you are driving. In most cases, eating or drinking takes one of your hands off the wheel, making you more vulnerable to putting yourself in an unsafe situation. Eating can be even riskier than talking on a cell phone while behind the wheel. To be safe, truckers can either pull completely off the roadway to eat or drink or have a meal before they get into their truck.

Victims of Truck Accidents Can Count on Slack Davis Sanger For Compassionate Counsel

If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident with a CDL truck driver, you may have experienced serious injury or even tragic loss of life of a loved one. Even in the best-case scenario, commercial truck accidents can result in compounding effects such as mounting medical bills, lost wages due to time off work and added expense and insurance hassles related to repairing or replacing your vehicle. That’s where the experienced attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger can help. Our lawyers are authorities on personal injury and wrongful death cases related to large truck accidents, and our track record shows we are a leader in advocating for improved passenger safety. You are entitled to receive fair compensation, and we can help secure it for you. Contact us for a free consultation.

What Are the Deadliest Highways in Texas?

Deadliest highways in Texas

As one of the biggest states, with more than 685,580 lane miles of highways, Texas holds the unfortunate distinction of being the third deadliest when it comes to highway deaths, after only California and Florida. According to an article in Texas Monthly, 10 percent of the fatal car accidents that occurred in the U.S. in 2015 happened in Texas, with 62 percent of those on our highways and interstates. And, Texas’ four largest cities, which are among the top 10 most populated cities in the United States, are where most of these dangerous stretches of highway are located. The 504-mile span of IH-35 that passes through three of these cities appeared on a list of the deadliest highways in the country in 2010 with 579 fatal accidents.

The Auto Insurance Center analyzed nationwide accident data over a 20-year time span. In the resulting study, two out of the top nine counties for fatalities are located in Texas. In the number four spot is Leon County, which is on the way from Dallas to Houston and is bisected by Interstate 45. The eighth most dangerous county in the United States is Reeves County in West Texas, which contains a section of Interstate 20 and part of I-10.

Crash data from the Texas Department of Transportation shows that in 2016, one person was killed every 2 hours and 20 minutes on Texas roadways. Sadly, one person was injured every 1 minute 59 seconds and one reportable crash occurred every 57 seconds. Perhaps even more alarming is that this brought the fatality rate to 1.44 deaths per hundred million vehicle traveled miles, an increase of 3.59 percent from the previous year.

All of these statistics underscore the risk we take when we get behind the wheel. Tragically, 3,773 people died in car crashes in Texas in 2016 alone, while another 17,582 people sustained serious injuries.

Where do these fatalities occur and why? Let’s take a look at the deadliest highways in Texas and the role we can all play in making our roads safer.

Roadway Fatalities In The Valley

Based on per-mile data on crashes which result in fatalities, the 1.49 miles of Interstate 69C in Edinburg, north of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus, is the deadliest. Twelve fatalities occurred on this South Texas roadway between 2013 and 2015 from seven crashes, which means that 8 people lost their lives per mile.

Interstate 69C is a freeway which runs south to north and begins in Pharr in Hidalgo County, which has a population of about 77,000. Edinburg is the county seat with just over 87,000 residents. The Rio Grande Valley is one of the fastest-growing areas in the United States, with tourism and agribusiness making up its biggest economic sectors.

Car Crashes In Cowtown

The dangerous roads in Texas aren’t limited to the more rural areas. With 14 fatalities on a 1.99 mile stretch of Interstate 30 in Fort Worth, mile point 124 had eight crashes between 2013 and 2015, which means there were 7.05 fatalities per mile. This makes this stretch of road the second deadliest in the state. This highway starts in a rural area west of Fort Worth and heads northeast until it ends in Little Rock, Arkansas.

An accident in April of 2017 on Interstate 30 in Rockwall claimed the life of one Texan when a semi-truck failed to brake, causing a multi-car accident which involved another semi and four cars. Two years earlier and few miles down I-30, five people lost their lives and a dozen more sustained injuries as a result of a collision with an 18-wheeler.

Fort Worth had four segments of highways with 90 fatalities. When combined with deaths in the larger the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, there were 15 deadly stretches of highway, which accounted for 377 fatalities.

According to an article in The Dallas Morning News, the Dallas/Fort Worth metro has 7.1 million people, which represents an increase of 144,704 residents from July 1, 2014, to July 1, 2015.

Perilous Stretches Of West Texas Roadways

Located in Penwell, approximately 16 miles outside of Odessa, a 2.93 mile stretch of Interstate 20 saw 18 facilities in seven crashes around mile point 151, which averages out to 6.15 fatalities per mile. I-20 is a major Texas thoroughfare which crosses most of the central part of the state, originating in Kent, Texas and ending in Florence, South Carolina. This portion of the interstate is considered the third deadliest in the entire state.

Surprisingly, the Odessa area in West Texas accounted for 82 fatalities in 74 crashes along five deadly stretches of highway totaling 29.6 highway miles. A large contributing factor is the oil boom in the early 2010s that brought many jobs to the area. The 2014-2015 census data shows that the Midland metropolitan had Texas’ highest population growth at 3.3 percent. Some of the roads in the area are narrow and not well-maintained, while unwieldy and large oil tankers, oil and gas equipment and semi-trucks traverse the area’s roadways.

In January 2015, a prison bus crashed while traveling westbound on I-20, resulting in 10 fatalities when it ran off an overpass and collided with a train. Four years earlier, Midland County had a period with one fatal car crash a week and 15 deaths from January until April alone.

Sadly, many of these fatalities may have been preventable. A contributing factor in many of these crashes was that the victims weren’t wearing seatbelts.

Central Texas Highways With High Fatality Rates

Central Texas isn’t immune to these auto fatalities. Interstate 35 at mile point 101 in San Antonio holds the fourth spot in the list of most deadly highways in Texas. With 13 fatalities in nine crashes along a 2.19-mile stretch of highway, this roadway averages 5.94 fatalities per mile.

As a whole, San Antonio has 10 deadly stretches of highway representing a total of 50.6 miles spread all across the city. A good portion of the 176 fatalities resulting from 153 fatal crashes happened along different portions of Interstate 410.

San Antonio is home to almost 1.5 million people. The metropolitan area increased by 51,000 residents between 2014 and 2015.

Accidents On Houston’s Highways Turn Tragic

A 5.42 mile stretch of Texas Highway 288 ranks as the fifth deadliest roadway in the state. Located in Houston along mile point 59, there were 28 crashes resulting in 32 fatalities between 2013 and 2015, which means there were 5.91 fatalities per mile.

The greater Houston area has 17 of the 78 deadly stretches. Anyone who has spent time in Houston won’t be surprised to learn that Houston commuters sat in traffic for 61 hours in 2014 and that the area experienced the single largest population growth of any city in the country with an increase in 159,083 people to bring the city’s total population to 6.6 million. The city’s deadly stretches account for 100.5 miles of the city’s highways, which had 345 fatalities with 316 crashes.

Comparing Auto Deaths By City

We’ve already covered parts of the DFW area, Houston and San Antonio which have perilous stretches of roadways. In addition, Austin holds seven deadly stretches, making up 41.4 miles of its highways. Between 2013 and 2015, the area had 113 crashes, which resulted in 127 fatalities. Fatal crashes in the capital city were fewer than in the state’s other three major metropolitan areas.

Our most populated regions aren’t the only ones with significant deadly stretches of highway. Abbott, Baytown, Bellaire, Bellmead, Colmesneil, Cotulla, Cypress, Duncanville, Edinburg, El Paso, Grand Prairie, Lancaster, Lewisville, Lubbock, Lufkin, Nacogdoches, Odessa, Penwell, Pinehurst, Premont, Sherman, Spring and Wetmore all made the list of cities with the most vehicle fatalities to round out the 78 deadliest stretches.

Wondering if you are more likely to get in a fatal accident in an urban or rural area in Texas? Studies show that 51.47 percent of fatalities in Texas in 2016 occurred in rural areas.

Crash Statistics from Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)

A few numbers stood out in the 2016 crash data from TxDOT:

  • Texas had zero deathless days in 2016.
  • In 2016, annual vehicle miles traveled was 261.994 billion, which was up from 258.122 billion in 2015, an increase of 1.5 percent. The more we are on the roads, the more likely we are to get into any type of crash, including a serious one.
  • 638 people died in head-on crashes.
  • October was the deadliest month, with 382 fatalities.
  • In motor vehicle crashes, 265,076 people were injured.
  • 496 motorcycle drivers and passengers died in 2016. Of those victims, 53 percent were not wearing helmets.
  • There was a 21.5 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities which represented a total of 678 deaths.
  • Twenty-six percent of the total number of people killed in motor vehicles died as a result of a driver being under the influence of alcohol.
  • More DUI crashes were reported between 2 am and 2:59 am than any other hour, with Saturday being the highest day of the week.
  • In crashes where distracted driving was involved, 455 people were killed. This is a 5 percent decrease from 2015.

Vehicles Involved In Crashes

Passenger cars still make up the largest type of car involved in fatal crashes. Statewide, 1,915 passenger cars were involved in crashes in 2016. The next largest vehicle type is trucks, with 1,452 crashes. SUVs were third highest with 907, followed by motorcycles with 497 and truck-tractor/semi-trailers with 403 deaths.

Other vehicle types included fire trucks, police vehicles, police motorcycles, vans, ambulances, buses, school buses, farm equipment and other, which all were below 200 statewide crashes.

Contributing Factors

In urban areas where officials recorded a cause for the crash, the biggest culprit seemed to be “failed to control speed,” which was the factor in 316 fatal crashes. The second highest contributing factor in 2016 was “failed to drive in single lane” with 291 crashes. A pedestrian’s failure to yield to a vehicle represented 288 fatal crashes that same year. Fourth on the list is driver inattention, which accounted for 180 fatal crashes, followed by speeding, which accounted for 170 fatal crashes.

What You Can Do to Stay Safe

In almost half of the fatalities in Texas in 2016, victims were not wearing a seatbelt. Numerous studies and data show that seatbelts save lives. Just by buckling up, motorists in Texas could keep themselves and their passengers safer.

In addition to that, there are specific things you can do to drive defensively and reduce your chances of getting into an accident:

  • Control your speed. Plan your trips to give yourself enough time to account for traffic. If someone is tailgating, move over and let them pass. Your stress level and sense of peace are not worth proving a point.
  • Pay attention. With so many demands on our time, it’s easy to get distracted by that text, call, radio station, checking email or even the other passengers in your car. The second highest contributing factor to fatal crashes was the failure to drive in your lane. Keep it between the lines. The fourth highest contributing factor was driver inattention. Those texts, calls and emails can wait.
  • Stay safe. Alcohol and medications can play a factor in crashes, as well. Alcohol was a factor in 987 deaths last year. If you’ve had too much to drink, ask a friend to drive you or use one of the many ride-share businesses that are available in Texas.
  • Know your limits. Fatigue played a big role in many of the crashes around Odessa and Midland when workers in the oil and gas industry left the job site after working long shifts. Don’t get behind the wheel if you can’t make the trip safely.
  • Maintain your distance. Understand that just because you’re paying attention to traffic, the driver in front of you might not be. Maintain a proper distance just in case that person suddenly brakes in traffic, slows down for no apparent reason or swerves into the other lane.

Slack Davis Sanger Lawyers Advocate For You In An Auto Accident

The biggest risk we take each day is getting behind the wheel. Our experienced auto and truck accident lawyers have decades of experience working with victims and their families who have suffered life-altering injuries in a car crash. Our compassionate lawyers have decades of experience fighting for just compensation for victims of these tragic events.

Truck Accident Causes and What To Do If You’re Involved in One

Truck Accident Causes

Vehicle accidents of any type always carry the potential for grim outcomes. But when a car is involved in an accident with a large truck, such as a semi, tanker or 18-wheeler, the outcome is especially likely to be serious, if not fatal. Smaller vehicles hardly stand a chance against larger trucks that outweigh them by many thousands of pounds—and unfortunately, many times, the truck is to blame for the accident.

One of the most common truck accident causes is driver error due to fatigue, inexperience, or driving under the influence. Other common truck accident causes include equipment failure, speeding, unsafe highway or weather conditions, and trucking company policies that may prevent alert, well-rested drivers.

What Truck Driver Accident Statistics Show

According to the Federation of American Scientists, rates of truck accidents, injuries and fatalities have been rising since 2009. This rise led to federal regulations which went into effect in 2013 that were intended to limit truck sizes, as well as truck drivers’ time spent on the road, but the Senate Appropriations Committee has since moved to suspend many of those regulations. Most recently, in March 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) abandoned its proposed “restart rule,” which would have required truck drivers to take a 34-hour rest period at least once per week.

The FMCSA has also proposed other rules that have faced opposition and have yet to become law, such as stricter training standards for drivers and trucks being equipped with speed limiters to prevent speeding on roadways. Both drivers and motor carriers have protested regulations like these due to the constant push for greater productivity and wages. The suspension of these regulations, however, may contribute to truck drivers spending longer hours on the road in longer, heavier trucks, both of which can put truck drivers and other vehicles at greater risk of being involved in a serious or even deadly accident.

Common Truck Accident Causes

In the early 2000s, the FMCSA, together with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, conducted a study examining the causes of nearly 1,000 serious crashes involving large trucks that occurred across 17 states. According to the results of this study, the leading causes of truck accidents include: brake problems (29%), speeding (23%), unfamiliar with the roadway (22%) and roadway problems (20%). Driver fatigue, drug use, and inexperience were also contributing factors.

Overall, there are five primary causes of truck accidents:

Truck driver impairment due to fatigue or driving under the influence

Spending long hours on the road leads to fatigue, which impairs alertness and driving ability; fatigue can also push some drivers to rely on stimulants and other substances to stay alert, despite the fact that these also can impair their ability to drive.

Equipment failure

A piece of a truck’s mechanical or electrical equipment can fail, which can result in a catastrophic injury. Brake failure or even a tire blowout can cause a truck driver to lose control of the vehicle, resulting in a devastating crash.

Highway or weather conditions that make driving less safe for everyone

The heavier the vehicle, the longer it takes for the driver to bring that vehicle to a complete stop, especially when roadways are wet or iced over. Similarly, sudden slow-downs and stops necessitated by construction, accidents or other roadway hazards are more difficult for longer, heavier vehicles to navigate or respond to quickly.

Speeding

Exceeding recommended speeds is a major factor in many roadway accidents, whether involving trucks, cars or other vehicles.

Trucking company policies

Some company policies push drivers to spend longer hours on the road, thereby creating unsafe conditions for everyone. Many truck drivers are subject to pressures such as strict deadlines and low hourly pay, leading them to push onward on the road instead of stopping to rest.

What to Do if You or Someone You Love Is Involved in a Truck Accident

When you or someone you know has been involved in an accident involving a truck, the injuries can be serious and the resulting medical bills can be staggering—not to mention the damage to your vehicle and any wages lost while you’re out of work. When there is a tragic loss of life due to a truck accident, the financial and emotional toll can be even more severe.

The personal injury attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger are compassionate and experienced in the area of truck accident injuries. We take a personalized approach to pursuing the compensation our clients deserve after experiencing a devastating truck accident. Whether you personally or someone you know was involved, call Slack Davis Sanger for legal advice on your particular situation. Our attorneys will help you fight for the fair compensation you deserve.

Staggering Statistics: The Truth About Trucking Accidents in Dallas

Dallas has the second-highest crash rate in the state of Texas, according to a report from the Texas Department of Transportation. In 2015, the city of Dallas counted 27 fatal automotive accidents that killed more than 30 people. An additional 1,000 people were injured in auto accidents that same year.

Commercial truck or big rig accidents are particularly dangerous due to the size and weight of these vehicles.  When a commercial truck collides with a compact car, or even a mid-sized sedan, the aftermath can be tragic. Commercial truck accidents are often preventable if drivers would simply avoid dangerous activities while driving. In Dallas, the leading causes of truck accidents include:

  • Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Improper lane changes
  • Reckless driving
  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Tired/fatigued drivers

For a closer look at trucking accidents, Slack Davis Sanger has created an infographic: