Archive for the ‘18-wheeler accidents’ Category

FMCSA Speed Limiter Rulemaking Aims for May 2024 Release

three semi trucks drive down the road during sunset.

Could semi-truck speed limiters help prevent commercial truck wrecks?

Federal officials are considering requiring commercial trucks to be equipped with a device that limits how fast semi-trucks can travel in an effort to prevent speed-related truck accidents, according to a recent proposal from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

“The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration now expects to publish its supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) on a motor carrier-based speed limiter mandate in May of this year, according to an updated Significant Rulemaking Report from the Department of Transportation,” reports CCJ Digital, a commercial truck news website.

What is the proposed FMCSA speed limiter mandate?

Since 2022, the FMCSA has been considering requiring commercial trucks that weigh more than 26,001 pounds (which would include most tractor-trailers) to be equipped with a speed-limiting device called an electronic engine control unit (ECU), according to an article published by CDL Life. The new FMCSA rules governing commercial truck speed-limiting devices are slated to be published in May 2024.

The FMCSA has not said what the maximum speed limit would be, if any, for the speed-limiting devices on commercial trucks. However, in September 2023, the FMCSA published a report that listed the maximum speed limit as 68 mph. However, the FMCSA then backtracked to remove a specific speed, CCJ Digital reports.

Many commercial truck drivers strongly oppose installing speed-limiting devices on trucks. “By limiting all trucks it will not improve safety in any meaningful way. In fact, it will most likely have the opposite effect by creating long lines of trucks on the roadways with no easy way to pass,” said one truck driver, according to some of the public comments published by CDL Life.

How common are speed-related tractor-trailer wrecks?

While some commercial truck drivers oppose the FMCSA proposal to install speed limiters on commercial trucks, it’s important to understand how common high-speed accidents involving commercial trucks are across the nation and how such crashes frequently cause severe injuries and death.

According to FMCSA data, speeding is the number one cause of fatal accidents involving large commercial trucks. Specifically, roughly 7 percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents involving large commercial trucks were due to speeding truck drivers.

Other proposed rule changes

Requiring all large commercial trucks to be equipped with speed-limiting devices isn’t the only proposed rule change being considered by the FMCSA. Other proposed changes to rules governing commercial truck drivers include:

  • Requiring commercial trucks to be equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems, according to CCJ Digital.
  • Revising the knowledge test for new commercial truck drivers.
  • Changing the FMCSA fitness rules governing commercial truck drivers, which is known in the trucking industry as the FMCSA’s “safety fitness determination” rule, according to CCJ Digital.

Holding negligent truckers accountable

Holding negligent truckers and trucking companies accountable for their actions is essential to ensuring justice for victims of commercial truck accidents. While it may seem straightforward that the at-fault party should cover all accident-related expenses, the reality is often different.

In Texas, where the at-fault car insurance system is in place, many truck accident claims don’t unfold smoothly. Despite being entitled to compensation, injury victims frequently encounter challenges in obtaining the full extent of their rightful compensation. That’s because the stakes are often high in commercial truck accident claims and lawsuits. As such, truck drivers, trucking companies, and their insurance representatives often employ tactics aimed at minimizing or even denying compensation altogether.

At Smith & Hassler, our team of Houston truck accident lawyers understands the injustices that victims face in these situations. We firmly believe that individuals harmed in accidents caused by commercial truck drivers deserve fair and full compensation for their losses. You shouldn’t bear the financial burden of someone else’s mistakes, and we’re here to fight for your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve.

Get the Houston, TX law firm that means business. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with a truck accident attorney you can count on in a crisis. We have four offices conveniently located throughout Texas, including three offices in Houston. Our truck accident lawyers also work on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay no fees unless we win your case. Schedule a free case review today to learn more.

Top 5 reasons we’re seeing an increase in truck accidents

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Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our daily lives have changed dramatically, including our interactions with others, how we work and how we shop. Believe it or not, the pandemic has had some impact on road safety and may be contributing to an increase in large commercial and delivery truck accidents.

Here are five reasons why this may have led to an increase in truck accidents.

1. Drivers are untrained or have poor driving habits

Large online retail companies, such as Amazon, need to hire more drivers in order to keep up with the increased demand. This could lead to companies hiring anyone they can get, including drivers who lack experience and/or a proper Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

Operating a large commercial truck or delivery truck requires skill. Drivers who don’t know what they’re doing are at a greater risk of causing crashes than those who do.

2. Drivers are overworked

Delivery drivers could be making about 200 stops and delivering up to 300 packages per day. When drivers are in a hurry or overworked, they may be more likely to bypass traffic rules or make careless mistakes behind the wheel.

Not only can this lead to crashes with other vehicles, but it can also lead to drivers hitting pedestrians or bicyclists when making deliveries in residential neighborhoods.

3. Shortage of company trucks and overloaded cargo

Online retail companies, such as Amazon, may not have enough company trucks to keep up with the increased demand. As a result, some employees may use personal vehicles, budget box trucks, or U-Haul vans to make deliveries.

Many of these vehicles could lack proper maintenance and may not be safe to operate. All it takes is a loose wheel, tire blowout or brake failure to cause a serious catastrophe.

4. Increased demand due to next-day deliveries

Not only are deliveries surging, but there is also an increased demand for next-day deliveries. This places a constant need for speed and efficiency on drivers to make deliveries within a short amount of time.

This can lead to fatigue, increased stress, speeding, aggressive driving and ignoring the safety of others on the road.

5. Increase in distracted driving

Delivery drivers who are in a hurry may try to multitask while driving. Moreover, the anxiety related to COVID-19 may give some drivers the urge to check their cellphones and notifications, which can potentially lead to a distracted driving crash.

What should I do if I was injured in an accident with a delivery driver?

If you were injured in a crash with a delivery truck driver, get an experienced Texas truck accident attorney on your side who can investigate the crash scene, the driver’s behavior and gross negligence on part of the trucking company.

Smith & Hassler Attorneys At Law has been helping truck crash victims in the greater Houston area obtain compensation since 1989. Contact us to find out how we can help you. Our case evaluations are free and confidential.

How rollover truck accidents wreak havoc in Texas

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Rollover accidents involving large commercial trucks often wreak havoc on Texas roads. That’s because large trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 lbs when fully-loaded with cargo.

Once a semi-trailer tips over on a high-speed roadway, a great deal of damage can be inflicted on other vehicles and roadside structures. As a result, multiple people can be injured or killed in a single crash.

According to the state crash data from the NHTSA, 664 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks on Texas roads — up from 657 the previous year. It’s unclear how many of these fatalities were caused by truck rollovers. Rollovers are one of the leading types of truck accidents in Texas, however.

What causes semi-truck rollovers?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the most common causes of semi-trailer rollovers include:

  • Driver error: The FMCSA says that roughly 78 percent of rollovers involve driver error such as drowsy driving, distracted driving and poorly navigating curves, as well as abrupt or over-steering.
  • Mechanical defects: Studies have found that more than 50 percent of truck rollovers are caused by brake defects.
  • Improper cargo loads: Improper loading of cargo is a contributing factor in more than 60 percent of rollovers. This often occurs when partial loads are not properly balanced, allowing for cargo to slosh from one side to another and disrupt the balance of the semi-trailer.

Myths about truck rollover accidents

Some myths about what causes truck rollovers include:

  • They’re caused by poor driving conditions: While poor driving conditions can contribute to truck rollovers, more than half of them occur on straight roads rather than curves or ramps. According to the FMCSA, nearly all truck rollovers happen on dry roads and two-thirds happen during daylight hours.
  • Speeding causes most rollovers: Speed is only a contributing factor, not a cause of rollovers. According to the FMCSA, driving too fast for conditions contributes to about 28 percent of rollovers.
  • Only inexperienced drivers cause rollovers: Rollovers can happen regardless of how much experience the driver has. In fact, approximately 66 percent of truck rollovers involve drivers with more than 10 years of driving experience.

What should I do if I’m injured in a rollover truck accident?

If your injuries are minor enough, you may be able to follow the standard crash protocol. This includes:

  • Calling the police
  • Taking pictures of the crash scene
  • Speaking to witnesses
  • Exchanging insurance information with other parties involved (name, address, phone number, insurance provider, and trucking company name and contact information)

Not all people involved in truck crashes have the luxury of taking these actions. If your injuries are severe, you will need prompt medical attention. You may not even remember exactly what happened.

The legal team at Smith & Hassler Attorneys at Law can help you get your life back. Our attorneys have been litigating truck crashes since 1989 and have a proven track record of getting results.

We serve clients in the greater Houston area. Contact us online or call 800-946-9461 (WIN WIN 1) to find out how we can help you.

Truckers still making simple electronic log mistakes

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Violations are down but many American truckers keep making mistakes with electronic logging devices that the federal government ordered to replace paper logs in late 2017.

That’s according to a story on the Heavy Duty Trucking website.

The installation of electronic logging devices (ELD) in trucks has improved compliance with the federal rules that require recording drivers’ hours of service (HOS). The percentage of driver inspections with at least one HOS violation fell to 0.57 percent in June 2019 and to 0.69 percent in April 2018, from 1.3 percent in December 2017.

Successful transfers of electronic logging device data are occurring at a rate of 35,000 monthly, an 80 percent success rate.

A US official said the number of trucking ELD violations could be lower

“There are a lot of drivers that are misapplying the rule,” said Joe DeLorenzo, chief enforcement officer of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

A lot of the trucking ELD violations found in roadside inspections involve “really simple stuff,” such as:

  • The device failing to transfer log data when requested by an inspector
  • Improper mounting of the portable ELD
  • Drivers being unskilled at transferring data using the ELD
  • Drivers sometimes lacking required documentation during an inspection stop

Keep going over the basics with drivers, DeLorenzo said.

Trucking companies share the blame regarding trucking ELD violations. Common violations include failing to ensure records are accurate, to produce records on request and to review records of unassigned driving or to annotate the record explaining why the time is unassigned.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates compliance of trucking companies and drivers with hours of service rules. The rules are intended to improve safety on the road by limiting driving time and ensuring drivers are rested.

The federal rules require that drivers work no more than 60 hours over seven consecutive days or 70 hours over eight days.

Drivers must maintain a log for seven days and eight days after, respectively. Drivers may be on duty for up to 14 hours following 10 hours off duty, but they are limited to 11 hours of driving time.

A driver can restart the consecutive-day cycle after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

Editing or additions to ELD records can be done but these changes cannot shorten the drive time that was listed in the original ELD. Also, the data in the ELD must be recertified and the original records must be maintained.

Trucking companies can request edits after ELD records have been submitted, but annotations are required to explain the edits.

An ELD in size is between a smartphone and a computer tablet. They can be mounted on a truck dashboard and picked up for mobile use.

According to, the devices:

  • Track a driver’s hours of work electronically
  • Must be synchronized with a truck’s engine to ensure the truck’s drive segments are captured
  • Transfer data electronically to a manager who can see the logs in real-time.

In assessing trucking ELD violations, it may be helpful to note that the devices perform numerous functions. The devices can record vehicle inspection reports, different states’ fuel taxes and driver behavior in relation to speeding, idling and hard braking.

Among benefits trucking companies have seen from ELDs are that they save time by reducing paperwork and they update dispatchers about drivers’ status, such as allowing for improved planning for trucking loads.

Contact Smith & Hassler Attorneys at Law in Houston, Texas today for help with issues related to trucking ELD violations and for car, truck and motorcycle crashes.

Pedestrian hit by 18-wheeler on I-45 survives

A man attempting to run across Interstate 45 North last night has miraculously survived being struck by an 18-wheeler. The accident happened just before midnight near Tidwell. Witnesses credit the 18-wheeler driver with attempting to swerve to avoid the crash, and after clipping the man the trucker pulled over and called 911. It is very difficult to gauge the speed of an approaching vehicle and how much time there is to cross a multi-lane roadway during daylight, let alone at night, so while taking a shortcut is tempting it can often prove fatal. The safer play is wait for help, don’t try to cross the freeway.

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Pedestrian hit by big rig on I45

Box truck crushes cars on Blue Bell Road in Houston, TX

Two drivers are lucky to have survived a four vehicle accident the afternoon of Thursday March 23, 2017.

According to Channel 13 News, a flatbed hauling some pipe was traveling the 600 block of Blue Bell Road when it struck the rear of a large white box truck, causing the box truck to make an out-of-control turn and topple over onto two passenger cars. The box truck partially crushed a gold colored Honda and a dark-colored Cadillac behind it. Accident witness Mr. Cruz Hernandez told Channel 13 that a female existed the Honda bleeding from her head, and the Cadillac driver was up and moving after the crash.

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Both were taken to the hospital to be checked out. The box truck driver wasn’t hurt in the crash, and the driver of the flatbed truck who cause the accident is going to be issued a citation for failure to control speed.

Roof ripped off pickup in Baytown 18 wheeler accident

An 18-year old male driver and his 17-year old female passenger miraculously survived a crash with an 18-wheeler that ripped the roof completely off their vehicle late Monday evening. The couple’s pickup went under the trailer of an 18-wheeler that had pulled out onto the roadway at Decker near Oakland in Baytown, Texas.

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Houston personal injury attorneys Smith & Hassler have been helping injured Texans get compensated for serious injuries from 18-wheeler accidents since 1989.

18-wheeler crashes into pickup on Gulf Freeway in Houston

The inbound Gulf Freeway was closed this morning after a collision involving an 18-wheeler and a pickup truck. The 18-wheeler was hauling concrete barriers when the driver noticed the big rig was starting to catch fire. He attempted to pull over onto the shoulder, but when he did, struck a pickup truck parked in the shoulder lane. The 18-wheeler then traveled an additional 1/4 mile or so according to Channel 13, before it stopped and was engulfed by flames. The injured driver of the pickup truck was taken to Clear Lake Regional Medical Center.

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Crews work on the burned 18-wheeler

Texas Disposal Systems truck accident kills Brein Bullock, injures mother

12-year old Brein Bullock was tragically killed and her 35-year old mother Leah Bullock was seriously injured when a Texas Disposal Systems truck struck a highway overpass bridge in Sealy, TX yesterday.

The truck was traveling on Highway 36 around 10:00 a.m. with the trailer boom raised when it struck an Old Highway 90 bridge. The rubble fell onto the Bullock family’s white-colored car. Brein, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, was dead at the scene. Leah was transported by helicopter to Memorial Hermann Hospital. Also in the vehicle was 9-year old Breanbon Gardner who was riding in the back seat and appears to have been uninjured.

There is a bridge height warning sign in place that the truck passed through prior to hitting the bridge. A witness driving behind the Texas Disposal Systems truck saw the vehicle hit the warning sign and keep going, and was filming the truck with a GoPro camera when the incident happened. The truck driver has been identified as 72-year old Carl Weige.

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Jaguar and Camaro crash on I-45 North

A Jaguar sedan and a Chevrolet Camaro were involved in a major crash on Interstate 45 North at Ritchey Road early this morning. A third vehicle, an 18-wheeler Dr. Pepper truck, was also involved when the big rig’s trailer was hit in the back by one of the two cars. Both the Jaguar and the Camaro sustained major damage in the accident, particularly the Camaro. The crash happened around 3:30 a.m. and temporarily shut down all of the northbound lanes. The drivers of both cars were transported to the hospital and the truck driver was apparently unhurt.

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The damaged Camaro