There are many causes of truck accidents on the nation's highways. These include drivers who speed, cargo that is improperly loaded, and commercial trucks put into service despite needing maintenance or repairs. But there's another cause that doesn't get as much attention. A shortage of parking spaces for semi-trucks is creating a hidden danger for motorists.
Fatal tractor-trailer accidents put focus on truck rest area spaces
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict regulations that limit the amount of time truck drivers can stay on the road. This means that after a certain amount of time, truckers are required to pull over and rest – sometimes for hours.
But there is not always a parking space available in rest areas. As a result, many commercial truck drivers have stopped on the sides of ramps. And that has led to fatal accidents.
A deadly crash in Texas
In July, Mario Gonzalez crashed into the back of a semi-truck south of San Antonio. The truck was parked on the side of a rest stop service road off I-37. Gonzalez had been speeding, but hit the brakes seconds before impact. It was dark, and the truck did not have any lights on. Gonzalez was killed in the crash.
The Gonzalez family has filed a lawsuit against the trucking company.
But the American Trucking Associations says drivers often have no choice. It notes that there is only one rest area parking space for every 11 trucks on the road.
Danny Schnautz, president of Clark Freight Lines in the Houston area, said drivers are often forced into taking their rest breaks in unsafe situations. He notes that finding a safe spot to park can be "impossible a large percent of the time."
This means that drivers park on the shoulders of rest stop ramps or highways. While unsafe, it is legal in Texas, which does not ban trucks from parking on the shoulder.
CBS News found big rigs parked on the freeway and rest stop shoulders in multiple states, crowding roads into rest areas already filled with parked trucks.
According to the FMCSA, in 2020, there were 4,000 injury accidents involving big rigs near the interstate on and off ramps, including 55 fatal accidents.
If you're injured in a crash with a semi-truck, talk to a lawyer
A truck accident can change the lives of victims and their families in just seconds. Victims who survive can be left with catastrophic injuries. The loved ones of victims who suffered fatal injuries are left in mourning.
Crash victims have legal rights, but holding the negligent parties who caused the accident accountable can be difficult. At-fault drivers deny doing anything wrong. Trucking companies and their insurance carriers aggressively fight claims for compensation, and they have teams of attorneys to look out for their best interests. They know there's a lot at stake. As a result, they'll try to shift blame for the accident or make a lowball settlement offer.
That's when having an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side can make a big difference. Attorney Jeff Weinstein of Weinstein Law fights for the injured and the families of lost loved ones in crashes throughout East Texas. He builds strong cases that help his clients get justice.
If you or a loved one was hurt in a truck accident, contact us to schedule a free consultation. Our office is in Athens, TX, and we proudly serve clients throughout Henderson County.