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HOUSTON, TX—Big Rig Driver Believed Dead After Plunging off Eastex Freeway

Posted on Thursday, June 27th, 2019 at 11:07 am by Williams Hart   |  Updated: Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019 at 11:50 am    

Authorities are reporting that on Thursday morning around 3:40AM, the driver of an 18-wheeler drove through the guardrail of the Eastex Freeway at the Crosby-Lynchburg exit, launching into the San Jacinto River about 20-30ft below. 

The incident occurred after a hit-and-run accident involving another big rig and a passenger vehicle. The 18-year-old driver of the Chevrolet Cavalier stated that his vehicle was struck by the first 18-wheeler, causing it to spin around and face eastbound in the westbound lanes. The driver of the first 18-wheeler continued driving.

The second big rig then swerved to avoid hitting the Cavalier, which was facing the wrong way, and hurled off the Eastex Freeway bridge and into the water. 

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzales stated that a search is underway for the second big rig driver. There are no signs the driver escaped.

UPDATE: The body of 60-year old Steve Martinez was recovered from the cab of the truck and identified by family members. Our hearts go out to them during this unthinkable tragedy.

The driver of the first 18-wheeler is still at large. 

Common Causes of Big Rig Accidents

  • Driver fatigue

According to the Texas Trucking Association, the state is short nearly 50,000 truck drivers and that number is only expected to increase. With a rapidly retiring workforce, lack of interest from younger generations, stagnant wages, and increasing freight loads, truck drivers are burdened with longer working hours and less time to get from point A to point B. 

  • Drug and alcohol use

Legal and illegal drug and alcohol use contributes to nearly 65,000 big rig accidents annually. Inconsistent drug and alcohol testing for CDL drivers operating a commercial vehicle is a significant issue. Furthermore, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that 22 percent of truck drivers were driving while receiving disability benefits for epilepsy, alcohol addiction, or drug dependence.

  • Texting and driving

The likelihood of being involved in an accident on the road is 23.2 times higher for truck drivers who text while behind the wheel than for those who don’t. 

Other common causes: 

  • Overweight freight loads
  • Improper vehicle inspection and maintenance
  • Cargo security
  • Poor road conditions and infrastructure, especially in rural West Texas

Road Fatality Prevention Measures

Road accidents involving 18-wheelers and other commercial vehicles are only expected to increase. While it can be difficult to prevent human errors that cause 18-wheeler accidents, there are measures that can be taken to subdue the number of fatalities that are expected to occur in the future:

  • Drivers must adhere to limited work hours regulations, such as the 11-hour driving limit and 60-hour weekly duty limit. If the demand for new truck drivers is to be met, life on the road must be improved with shorter work hours and more time to rest.
  • Practice safe driving, for both truckers and passenger vehicles.
    • No tailgating, use turn signals, minimize lane changing, stay out of blind spots, use caution in work zones and in inclement weather, and apply breaks early.
  • Logistics professionals must be cognizant of safety measures such as land transportation safety policies, routine commercial vehicle inspections, and proper freight load management that would further reduce drivers’ exposure to fatal road hazards.

Get the Justice You Deserve

Road fatalities and injuries involving 18-wheelers are serious realities for both big rig operators and regular vehicle passengers. Fortunately, there are lawyers who specialize in truck driving accident injury cases and can help you get the justice that you or your family deserve.

If someone you love was seriously hurt or killed in an accident, you may be unsure of where to turn. The attorneys of Williams Hart have experience helping people through the aftermath of catastrophic accidents, and we can help you too. Contact our law firm at (713) 352-7071 to speak with an experienced lawyer today.

Note: We report on the types of accidents and injuries our law firm has experience handling. Our hearts go out to victims of the accidents described on this blog, and we hope that future accidents, injuries, and deaths can be prevented. These posts are gathered from recent stories in the news. As new developments occur, these stories are often updated. If information contained within this article is false or outdated, please contact us so we can include the new information or make a correction.

Disclaimer: Williams Hart hopes that by showing how often catastrophic accidents occur, we can begin a conversation about how to reduce or prevent them. We sincerely hope that the articles on our blog arm readers with the information needed to avoid being involved in such accidents. Content on this blog should not be construed as legal advice.

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