Why Are So Many 18 Wheelers Rolling Over on Texas Highways?

A semi driver lost control of his truck on a road in Lubbock as he took a sharp curve. The truck rolled into an open field and landed on the tractor-trailer’s top, killing the 50 year-old driver from Fort Worth.

A truck driver was thrown from the cab of his 18-wheeler when he lost control on I-20 in Midland. The truck’s tire blew out, causing the truck to tip and roll onto its side. The driver sustained serious injuries. Fortunately, the Basic Energy oil truck did not catch fire or explode.

A driver from Central Texas lost his leg when his 18-wheeler hit a guardrail and flipped over in Williamson County.

These stories are just the tip of the iceberg. Tractor-trailer rollovers are surprisingly common. Rollovers put the truck driver at risk of serious or fatal injuries and put motorists in harm’s way. Nothing is scarier than being near an out-of-control semi. A truck that flips can plow over anything in its path and crush a car.

What Causes Semi Rollovers?

First, the tractor-trailer design makes these vehicles vulnerable to rollover crashes. The high base of gravity, heavy weight and long size of the truck can send the truck onto its side during a sharp turn or when the driver has lost control. 

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration described road conditions and driver errors that contribute to rollover crashes. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study analyzed 239 accidents in which a truck rolled over and determined that almost half were caused by:

  • The driver’s failure to adjust speed to account for curves in the road
  • The driver taking the on-and off-ramps too fast
  • The truck being improperly loaded
  • The truck’s poor brakes maintenance 
  • A poorly maintained road surface or improperly designed intersection 

Driver error or inattentiveness further contributed to the crash.


Curves in Texas Roads

All drivers have to adjust speed before entering a curve in the road or taking an on-off ramp. But, whereas a motorist generally risks spinning out of control, truck drivers risk actually flipping their rigs because of the high center of gravity. 

Although driver’s speed is often to blame, Texas’s road design also plays a part. Many Texas ramps and curves are built at too much of an angle to accommodate a truck traveling at the posted speed.

Over-Correcting at a Turn

On a straightaway, sudden jerking of the steering wheel can cause a rig to flip. This might occur when the driver begins to drift into the other lane, often because he is nodding off or distracted, and then “wakes up” and attempts to correct his mistake. 

Improperly Loaded Trailer 

Once a truck begins to fall over, the load can increase its momentum, making the rollover unavoidable. A load that is not correctly secured can shift or an overloaded truck adds excessive weight, so the driver is not able to bring the semi upright.

Recovery After an 18-Wheeler Truck Crash

If you were the victim of an 18-wheeler rollover, you need a lawyer with the experience and determination to find out what happened and who is to blame.

Berenson Injury Law has 35 years of experience representing people injured in tractor-trailer accidents. Please contact us if you have been involved in a collision with an 18 wheeler.

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