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Are big rigs hazards on Texas highways?

Anyone who has ever been tooling down the highway and caught a glimpse in their rear view mirror of a large truck approaching at a high rate speed understands the rush of fear that can accompany the experience.

It's an obvious fact that the occupants of passenger vehicles are at a distinct disadvantage when involved in collisions with big rigs. The vulnerability is attributed to the massive size and weight of a fully loaded semi-truck, which can weigh as much as 30 times that of a smaller vehicle. Not only that, but the high ground clearance of a large truck means that there is a grave danger of smaller cars underriding 18-wheelers in accidents.

According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System of the Department of Transportation, in 2013, there were 3,602 deaths in collisions with large trucks. Of that total, 16 percent truck drivers or occupants died. Of the remainder, 15 percent were motorcycle, bicycle or pedestrian deaths, and 67 percent were either drivers or passengers of smaller vehicles.

These figures also indicate that deaths in big rig collisions are on the rise, with a 14 percent uptick in 2013 from 2009. One factor can be the braking capability of these large trucks, which typically take up to a 40 percent greater distance to come to a stop. When inclement weather conditions are present, the rates jump even higher.

There can be other hazards at play, like brakes that haven't been properly maintained in the big rigs. Fatigued truckers increase the risk of crashing as well. The federal hours-of-service rules permit driving for 11-hour stretches and 77 hours in a single week.

However, drivers are frequently pushed by their companies to exceed their driving quotas in order to make deliveries. This can increase the risk of colliding with other vehicles as truckers rush to meet impossible deadlines.

If you were injured in a crash with a big rig, you can file a claim for damages against the at-fault truck driver and the company that owns the truck,

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, "Large Trucks," accessed Jan. 19, 2016

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