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Reeves County, TX — Woman Fatally Struck by 18-Wheeler in Head-On Collision

Posted on Monday, January 13th, 2020 at 10:59 am by Williams Hart    

The Texas Department of Public Safety is investigating a fatal accident involving two 18-wheelers and a passenger vehicle that occured on I-10 around 1:15pm in Reeves County, TX. 

Officials reported that an 18-wheeler traveling in the eastbound lanes, driven by 57-year-old Esteban Padilla-Mena, crossed the center median, entered into the westbound lanes and struck a Nissan Altima head-on — killing 44-year-old Wajma Popal at the scene. The semi then rolled over and hit another 18-wheeler that was traveling behind Ms. Popal.

Our thoughts are with the victim’s family as they are undoubtedly devastated by the loss of their loved one. 

 

Common Causes of Big Rig Accidents

While investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the accident, there are a number of factors that could have contributed to this tragic accident. 

  • 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

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.
  • Employers must diligently screen their drivers for prior safety violations and medical conditions that may require prescription medication known to inhibit driving abilities.
  • 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. No one should have to endure the overwhelming stress of losing a loved one to an accident that was entirely preventable. 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 you or a loved one have been injured in an 18-wheeler accident, contact us today for an initial case evaluation at no cost to you. 

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