For anyone who has been inbound or outbound over Houston’s massive highway system, one problem stands above the rest – traffic. Although the large influx of heavy traffic, from motorcycles to commercial vehicles, can be especially headache-inducing on an almost daily basis, there is another, far more pressing concern to take note of—cement mixers and heavy trucks.
If you live in Houston, it’s a safe bet that you have likely been in the vicinity of these powerful vehicles, even stuck behind them while in traffic. However, were you also aware that they can cause significant incidents from minor fender benders to full-blown accidents? Not only can these vehicles cause substantial damage to smaller automobiles, but they can also severely injure an individual.
Some of the more recent incidents involving cement mixers and heavy trucks include:
- 12/03/2014 – A speeding cement mixer turned over at FM 762 and Crabb River Road, resulting in cement pouring out of the mixer and draining into the nearby river. Although the driver sustained minor injuries, no one else was hurt.
- 03/17/2015 – An overturned cement mixer was found at the feeder of the Gulf Freeway, north of FM 518. HAZMAT workers were subsequently called to the scene in order to deal with the noxious vapors caused by leaking gas. While being pulled by the wrecker, the cement truck then turned over again, causing another accident at the 21000 block of the Gulf Freeway. The incident significantly delayed traffic by several hours, but no injuries were reported.
- 06/02/2015 – On Texas 105 West a concrete-loaded truck was speeding west when it turned onto Stewart Creek before it then collided into a sedan. The sedan was not only severely damaged, but the crash also resulted in several injuries for drivers and passengers, with one ending up in critical condition.
- 07/17/2015 – At Spur 330, before Rollingbrook Drive, a cement truck was involved in a fiery crash when one of the vehicle’s front tires blew out. The driver then lost control and ran into the wall, resulting in pieces ripping off from the truck and the driver receiving nonlife-threatening injuries.
- 09/01/2015 – On 610 South Loop at FM 521 an overturned cement truck caused significant delays, though no injuries were reported.
- 09/08/2015 – A commercial vehicle had a blowout northbound on S.H. 249. The truck hit the retainer and landed underneath a bridge South of the Chasewood Drive intersection, resulting in the driver’s untimely death.
- 10/02/2015 – A cement truck slammed into a tollbooth at the Hardy Toll Road near Tidewell, resulting in nonlife threatening injuries for the driver. No other injuries were reported on the scene, and there is still speculation as to what caused the crash in the first place.
- 10/20/2015 – An overturned concrete mixer caused 59 Southwest Freeway to shut down for hours.
These recent incidents shed light into the potential harm that cement mixers and heavy trucks can cause on Houston’s roadways, and one can easily note that these incidents seemingly occur almost every month. That brings up one pivotal question . . . .
What Are the Dangers?
As one can see from these incidents, the results from cement mixers and heavy trucks being improperly used and driven can have a host of different consequences. Some of the problems contributing to the dangers of these types of vehicles include:
- Lack of Visibility: Like many commercial and large vehicles, these types of trucks have significant blind spots. This can create an even greater potential of accidents if passenger vehicles get inside these potential hot zones.
- Instability: As one can imagine, cement trucks and heavy vehicles do not have the same center of gravity as passenger vehicles. This can make them unstable by design, especially in times of crisis, such as poor weather conditions, mechanical malfunction, or during unexpected occurrences.
- Driver Error: Like all vehicles, the machine is only as good as the driver. Human error, whether intentionally brought on or through simple mishaps, can intensify the aforementioned situations and create an especially dangerous environment.
All of these aspects work together to create an environment that may be more conducive to traffic incidents and accidents than even many commercial vehicles would allow. Quite simply, cement mixers and heavy trucks, especially those loaded with weighted equipment or resources, can be especially harmful for the mere fact that they are harder to manage. As showcased in the previously mentioned incidents, even seasoned drivers can find themselves in a compromising position with these vehicles.
What Can You Do?
If you find yourself in the vicinity of a cement mixer or heavy truck, there are many steps and considerations you can make in order to ensure you are proactive in preventing potential incidents or accidents:
- Don’t assume that the driver can see you! Most commercial vehicles have signage on the sides and the back of the vehicle indicating where the potential blind spots are.
- Although these blind spots may be brought to your attention, it is important to proceed still with caution around these types of vehicles.
- Be extra mindful during inclement weather, roadway construction, or unexpected events. Use extreme caution! Remember that conditions are worsened during these events. Thus, the potential for accidents to occur is raised significantly.
- When changing lanes, ensure that you use proper signaling with your vehicle as well as make eye contact with the other driver. Again, do not assume anyone can see you, but ensure that they can!
- When possible, avoid getting directly behind these types of vehicles. If being in their vicinity is unavoidable, remember to stay two car lengths away from the rear of the vehicle.
America’s infrastructure relies heavily on cement mixers and other types of heavy trucks. Although they play a significant part in making the country greater, they can still create potential hazards. It is always important to use extreme caution when in the vicinity of these vehicles to ensure the safety of yourself and your passengers.