There are several different types of Texas truck accidents that can occur when an 18 wheeler and a passenger vehicle collide. These accidents can be devastating, and often fatal. The following discussion relates to the most common types of semi-truck accidents.
An override accident occurs when an 18 wheeler runs over a smaller vehicle. This happens most often when a small passenger vehicle is in front of a semi-truck, but not enough distance is maintained. Because of an 18 wheeler’s massive blind spots, if a car stays directly in front of it, the truck driver will not be able to see it. If the car slams on its brakes and the truck is not able to brake in time, it may run over the car completely.
Causes of override accidents include:
- Brake failure: Driver may try to stop but he may be unable to
- Driver fatigue/distraction
- Defective parts/maintenance failure, including tire blowouts
- Driver mistakes, such as tailgating
Override injuries can be devastating, especially to the passengers in the car. The truck is essentially crushing the car. Injuries may include head, brain, and spinal cord damage, as well as fractures and crushed legs. In the most tragic accidents, those involved do not survive.
An underride accident occurs when a passenger car crashes into a truck from behind and slides beneath the 18 wheeler. Because of the height differential, an accident like this can take the entire top off of a passenger car, leaving the occupants completely exposed. As one may imagine, this can lead to death or catastrophic injuries. These horrific accidents occur most often when a car is following too close behind a truck.
The following are tips that may help prevent an underride accident:
- By keeping up with maintenance, such as proper brake maintenance, accidents such as these are less likely to occur.
- Properly functioning tail lights and reflective tape help ensure proper visibility on the road at night
- Underride guards may help prevent a car from sliding beneath an 18 wheeler, even in the case of a collision
- Driver focus and vigilance can help prevent dangerous situations from arising in the first place
While underride or rear-impact guard rails sound like a simple solution to this type of accident, studies have shown that they are not always effective. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, rear guards that meet U.S. safety standards were not effective in preventing fatalities at moderate or high speeds. Canadian guard rails must meet higher standards, and the study showed that they were more effective and preventing accidents. While some trucking companies voluntarily install these more effective rails, they are not yet legally required.
Until they are, it is important for the drivers of passenger cars to realize what serious accidents can result when they do not keep proper distance from an 18 wheeler on the highway. Truck drivers may not be able to see everything around them at all times, therefore it is the responsibility of drivers to maintain a safe distance.
The majority of truck driver fatalities occur in rollover accidents. The driver’s cab is not usually strong enough to withstand the impact of such accidents. Rollovers occur when an 18 wheeler tips and turns onto its side, or sometimes even flips all the way over onto its top. This is most likely to occur when a driver swerves suddenly, or takes a curve at too high a speed. Improperly or overly loaded trucks are more prone to tip because their weight is not distributed safely. Inclement weather conditions can also make it more likely that a truck will rollover. Whether a truck driver encounters rain, sleet, snow, or high winds, reducing speed can greatly reduce the likelihood of such an occurrence.
A jackknife accident occurs when the cab and the attached trailer get out of sync so that the trailer is moving faster than the cab. When this occurs, the trailer pushes forward and the cab ends up flipping around and facing in the other direction. This tends to occur when the tires on an 18 wheeler lose traction, and can occur when slamming on the brakes or when the roads are slick. Jackknifing accidents can cause a truck to spin across several lanes of a highway, taking out the cars in its path.
There are some tips that drivers can follow to avoid jackknifing:
- Check mirrors often for trailer swing.
- Try never to slam on the brakes.
- Be extra-vigilant if you are driving with an empty trailer. Empty trailers are more prone to jackknifing because there is no weight to bear down on the road. Rear-heavy loads are also more prone to jackknifing.
- Decelerate before curves and turns. Braking on a curve can lead to loss of traction.
- Try to avoid braking and swerving at the same time, though in an emergency situation, this may be one’s first instinct.
- Have anti-lock brakes.
Our Texas Truck Accident Attorneys Can Help
If you have been injured in an override, underride, rollover, or jackkniffe 18 wheeler accident, you are likely suffering devastating injuries. In a flash, you might find yourself unable to work, and facing mounting medical bills for essential medical treatment. Getting your life back on track may be proving difficult. In such cases, the representation of an experienced personal injury attorney is critical. Legal representation can mean the difference between full compensation and an inadequate settlement. Contact our office for a free consultation. We don’t receive our fees unless you see a settlement.