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Excessive Speed in Texas Truck Accidents

A pure example of putting profits ahead of people

We all share the road with heavy trucks every day, and for the most part, their drivers are safe, responsible operators who pay attention to the road conditions and the vehicles around them. However, when truckers fail to follow the rules of the road, they put everyone else around them at risk – and when they cause accidents, lives are changed forever.

One of the most dangerous things a trucker can do is drive at an unsafe speed.

What makes speeding trucks so dangerous?

A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds – as a point of comparison, most passenger cars weigh in at around 3,000 pounds, and even large SUVs and minivans are around 5,000 pounds. All that weight gives the truck a great deal of momentum, and even a relatively small increase in speed means a large increase in momentum.

The higher the speed, the longer the stopping distance, and for large trucks that already have a long stopping distance, this can easily make it impossible for the trucker to stop in time to avoid hitting a hazard, such as a smaller vehicle. A trucker driving at a high speed may rear-end another vehicle, or swerve to evade a collision – dangerous at any speed, but even more so at high speed where there is a significant risk of a rollover.

Rollovers in general are more common at high speed because the amount of centrifugal force pushing the top of the truck to lean away from the direction of the curve increases significantly when the truck is moving faster. Speeding trucks may roll over when the trucker misjudges a curve, or while entering or exiting the highway.

Speeding can likewise lead to jackknifing when the trucker slams on the brakes, especially on wet or slippery pavement, or if the brakes are poorly maintained. Moreover, the faster the truck is moving, the less time the trucker has to recognize and adjust to hazards or changing road conditions, which can be a huge problem in combination with distracted driving.

The increase in momentum at higher speeds also means the truck does more damage with the force of impact. There’s already a massive disparity between big trucks and smaller vehicles, and adding high speed to the mix only makes that disparity more dangerous.

In addition to all these risks associated with speeding itself, research has shown that truckers who speed are also far more prone to other risky driving behaviors. A SmartDrive study found that truckers who consistently drive at unsafe speeds are also more likely to not stop at stop signs, change lanes in an unsafe manner, text and drive, eat and drink behind the wheel, take both hands off the wheel, and even do paperwork while driving.

Why truckers often drive too fast

In short, everything dangerous about semi-trucks is made more dangerous by high speed. That’s why driving at a safe speed is so important for truckers – but unfortunately, the trucking companies are far too willing to put profits ahead of that need for safety.

Many truck drivers are paid by the mile, not by the hour – meaning the faster they drive, the more they get paid. They are under pressure to deliver loads on tight schedules, and while there is certainly a legitimate logistical need to transport goods in a timely manner, trucking companies should be more conscious of changing road conditions and potential delays.

Again, speeding truckers are often reckless and unsafe operators in general, and some of those safety issues should show up on background checks. Unfortunately, too many trucking companies fail to effectively background-check their drivers, or they hire or retain drivers despite red flags because they’re shorthanded.

Proving that a trucker was speeding can be an involved process

Especially when a speeding accident happens on a remote road where it’s just one person’s word against the trucker’s, it can be difficult to establish liability. A key piece of evidence in this situation can be the truck’s “black box” data, which shows the speed and direction of travel at the time of collision. Other important evidence includes:

  • Hiring and supervision records, which may show a history of speeding or reckless behavior behind the wheel more generally.
  • Witness testimony, if there were witnesses to the crash.
  • Physical evidence from the scene, such as skid marks and property damage.
  • The hours of service (HOS) log, which documents work hours and rest breaks – and may indicate that the trucker was fatigued or be cross-referenced with other evidence.

Depending on the circumstances, an attorney may be able to pursue compensation for a speeding accident from the truck driver or the trucking company. For instance, if we find evidence the trucking company implicitly or explicitly pressured the driver to drive at unsafe speeds, there may be a claim for negligence on the part of the trucking company. Likewise, if the trucking company failed to conduct a background check that would have shown evidence of speeding and reckless driving, a claim can be made for negligent hiring, or negligent retention if a trucker was kept employed despite warning signs.

The value of hiring an experienced attorney after a speeding truck accident

Tractor-trailers can cause massive damage, and that is even more true when they cause collisions at high speeds. Severe, life-altering injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and loss of limbs, are unfortunately common. Sadly, these types of crashes are too often fatal, leaving families to mourn and rebuild.

Under the law, you have recourse against the trucker, the trucking company, and any other entity that contributed to the wreck (such as the driver of a third vehicle or a truck manufacturer). However, getting full compensation for a truck accident is a difficult and involved process. The amount of investigation required is high, and the laws that apply to commercial vehicles are complex and sometimes obscure.

That’s why it’s critical that you speak with an attorney who has experience specifically handling high-stakes truck accident cases. Someone who knows the law and knows the trucking industry is well-positioned to help you pursue the full amount of compensation you’re entitled to receive by law. If you have been hurt or lost a loved one in a truck accident, talk to an experienced truck accident attorney in your area today.

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The Herrera Law Firm

Founded in 1983, The Herrera Law Firm fights for injured people in San Antonio and throughout Texas. We’re a premier personal injury firm with a strong track record. As founder Fr...