Truck accidents in Texas occur most frequently on the major roadways like Mopac, State Highway 130 ("SH 130"), and the I-35 corridor. The number of 18-wheeler accidents in Austin and surrounding areas is likely to increase due to a couple of different factors.
First, the 85 mph speed limit on State Highway 130 (SH 130) is the highest speed limit in the entire country. SH 130, which runs a total of 91 miles from North Austin to Seguin was intended to alleviate the familiar gridlock on Austin roadways like Mopac and I-35. However, the increased speed limit has created problems that have led to the rise in 18-wheeler accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") recently reported that deadly accidents caused by 18-wheelers were on the rise nationwide. The report determined that the increasing numbers of 18-wheeler fatalities were caused by high speed tire blow-outs and poor maintenance of commercial trucks.
The NHTSA report specifically found that 18-wheeler truck tires are not rated to operate in excess of 81 mph. That means that there is not a single 18 wheeler in the country that is capable of driving the established speed limit on SH 130 without creating the risk of a devastating tire blow-out.
Even the trucking industry has spoken up against state and local government speed limit increases. The American Trucking Association ("ATA") has been warning State Governments of the dangers posed by increasing speed limits beyond 65 mph for years.
"Raising speed limits at the state level is a bad idea beyond 65 mph,"
-ATA executive vice president Dave Osiecki.
Of course, the industry could simply police itself and regulate the maximum speed of their trucks through the use of speed limiters, a simple and affordable device that mechanically regulates how fast a big rig can drive. Unfortunately, the industry has not taken any meaningful steps towards the use of speed limiters.
The next time you see an 18-wheeler passing you at 81+ MPH on the highway, you should know that the truck is operating outside the specifications of the very tires that are propelling it down the road. The tires could literally blow-out at any moment travelling that fast.
When an 18-wheeler truck has a blow out on the highway, everyone surrounding the big rig is at risk of suffering catastrophic injuries, including the operator of the truck itself. The seriousness of potential injuries in such an accident is reason enough to limit the speeds at which these commercial trucks can travel on our roadways.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an 18-wheeler accident in Austin or the surrounding areas, contact an experienced local personal injury law firm to schedule a no-risk, free consultation to review the facts of your case.