When compared to drowsy drivers, aggressive truck drivers are three times more likely to be involved in an accident, according to statistics found in Driving Insights. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety also reports that more than half of all fatal crashes in the United States are caused by aggressive driving behaviors. While Texas has no specific aggressive driving laws, the Texas DOT says a truck driver can be fined up to $200 for each aggressive driving moving violation.
Further, truck drivers who have been involved in one or more collisions are about 6.5 times as likely to be exhibiting aggressive driving behaviors. The Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver’s Handbook, Section 2.10.1 addresses aggressive driving among truck drivers. The section states that “crowded roads leave little room for error,” and that “aggressive driving is the act of operating a motor vehicle in a selfish, bold or pushy manner, without regard for the rights or safety of others.”
Aggressive driving behaviors can include:
- Unsafe passing;
- Excessive acceleration;
- Improper or erratic lane changing;
- Passing where prohibited;
- Failure to yield right-of-way;
- Failure to obey traffic signs, traffic control devices or traffic officers;
- Failure to signal;
- Illegal driving on road shoulders;
- Illegal driving on sidewalk or median, or
- Following improperly.
THE STRESSES ASSOCIATED WITH TRUCK DRIVING
Truck driving can be a particularly stressful career, with the stress coming from every direction—and usually all at once. Dispatchers yell, trucks break down, traffic gets stalled, shippers and receivers want it picked up and delivered quicker, and there is usually a family at home with their own set of problems which the trucker is trying to handle from thousands of miles away. Any time a trucker is behind the wheel of the truck they are under the gun to get the load delivered yesterday.
Truckers only get paid for the time they are actually behind the wheel, so there may be pressure from home for the trucker to continue driving even when they are exhausted and burned out simply to pay the mortgage from month to month. The company the trucker works for may also have little interest in the mental health of their driver—the longer that driver stays on the road, the better their financial bottom line looks at the end of the month. So, truckers are pulled in every direction, from a large number of people, day in and day out.
AGGRESSIVE TRUCKING BEHAVIORS
While some truckers learn to manage this stress through deliberately-learned coping skills, others engage in aggressive trucking behaviors as a way of letting off steam. The patience level may be simply non-existent from the constant pressure the driver is under and when a truck driver feels others who share the road are prohibiting them from effectively meeting their deadlines, aggression can ensue. Other truckers, by virtue of the 80,000-pound truck they are driving, truly feel as though they have the right-of-way, no matter what. They may feel they are not bound by the same rules of the road as other drivers, therefore may drive at excessive speeds, may refuse to use a signal when they turn or change lanes or could stubbornly hold onto the right-of-way even when a potential accident could ensue.
TRUCK DRIVERS, AGGRESSIVE DRIVING, & HIT AND RUNS
When a trucker makes a mistake and hits another vehicle, they may initially panic. This panic can cause the truck driver to make another serious mistake by fleeing the scene of the accident. In Texas, this scenario happens more often than you may think. Truck drivers who clip other vehicles, rear end cars, or sideswipe other vehicles often flee the scene of the accident, further complicating matters. When a trucker flees the scene of an accident, medical care can be delayed to accident victims.
BLIND SPOTS COUPLED WITH AGGRESSIVE DRIVING
Truckers are also hindered by dangerous blind spots which prevent them from seeing the much smaller passenger cars directly behind them or in certain spots on either side. An overly tired, short on patience trucker may exhibit aggressive lane changes without ensuring there are no vehicles in his blind spot, leading to a sideswipe accident which could have potentially fatal consequences. Drivers who are in a huge hurry to get on the road may neglect to ensure their cargo is properly secured, or mandatory pre-trip inspections may be skipped. At present, only about a quarter of the states have addressed the problem of aggressive driving through legislation—an uphill battle for those states.
IS ROAD RAGE THE SAME AS AGGRESSIVE DRIVING?
Aggressive driving is a traffic offense or a combination of traffic offenses which could be considered negligent or inconsiderate. Road rage, on the other hand, is a criminal offense which occurs when a traffic incident escalates into a much more serious situation. Road rage incidents are much more deliberate and intentional. As an example, if a truck driver is in such a hurry that he or she cuts off another driver in an effort to switch lanes and make better time, it is considered aggressive driving.
If the truck driver deliberately targets another vehicle or driver, cutting that driver off deliberately, then the act could be considered road rage. While truck drivers may often engage in aggressive driving, they are probably less likely than other drivers to engage in road rage. An aggressive truck driver can put other drivers at risk, in some cases, continuing on his or her way, oblivious to problems caused by the aggressive driving. The public concern over aggressive driving among all drivers continues to grow, however by virtue of a commercial truck’s size, aggressive driving among truck drivers is of special concern.
CONTACT A HOUSTON TRUCKING ACCIDENT ATTORNEY TODAY
If you or someone you love has been injured in a trucking accident in Houston or anywhere in the state of Texas, call a Board Certified personal injury attorney in trucking accidents to evaluate your potential claim.