When others engage in aggressive driving behaviors on the road, it unnecessarily endangers everyone else driving, riding, walking, or working on or near major roadways. Aggressive driving behaviors are estimated to be exhibited in 80 percent of drivers. Aggressive driving by truck drivers presents major safety threats that are exacerbated by the size, force, and power of large semi-trucks and 18-wheelers.
What Is Aggressive Driving?
Aggressive driving is any deliberate behavior or combination of behaviors that increase the risk of a crash. These actions are typically motivated by impatience, hostility, annoyance, and/or a desire to save time. In most cases, this behavior is not only dangerous but also gives rise to a variety of traffic offenses. In Texas, moving violations for aggressive drivers can result in a fine of up to $200 for each offense. These fines can be much higher for big rigs governed by additional federal rules and regulations.
How Common Is Aggressive Driving?
Insurance Information Institute found that aggressive driving played a role in 56 percent of fatal crashes from 2003 through 2007 and there has been a 500 percent increase in reported cases of road rage over the last 10 years. Specifically, in our area, road rage and aggressive driving incidents in Harris County have trended upward over the years. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, crashes that listed road rage as a contributing factor reached 1,383 in 2020 (TXDOT).
What Are the Consequences of Aggressive Driving by Truck Drivers?
When a truck driver engages in aggressive driving, the consequences can be catastrophic. After all, aggressive driving behaviors by large commercial truck drivers, such as speeding and tailgating, create dangerous situations given that those vehicles require longer to stop and can inflict severe damage due to their sheer size as compared to smaller passenger vehicles and motorcycles. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration have found that 66 percent of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving. In addition, aggressive driving begets more aggressive driving; the American Psychology Association found that 50 percent of drivers respond to the careless acts of other drivers with aggressive driving behaviors themselves. What’s even scarier, 37 percent of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm.
Why Do Truckers Drive Aggressively?
In certain circumstances, truckers may drive aggressively to meet strict deadlines set by their employers or to make up time if they have become delayed on a route. Other truck drivers may drive aggressively due to extreme stress or other emotional or psychological issues, which may become exacerbated by excessive fatigue, which is common in the trucking industry. In the event a truck driver is using alcohol or drugs while behind the wheel, this can also greatly contribute to aggressive driving behaviors.
Aggressive truck driving can result from several types of situations, including:
- Tight deadlines
- Traffic jams
- Poor road conditions
- Pay per mile wages
- Alcohol and drug use
- Driver fatigue
Behaviors Indicating Aggressive Driving by Truck Drivers
Everyone on our roads has had at least some driving frustration; but for some, the anger resulting from the bad behavior of others on the road lasts much longer than an instant which can lead to catastrophic consequences. Drivers report that distracted driving, tailgating, and cutting off other drivers are the most enraging roadway driving behaviors. Some of the most common aggressive driving behaviors by truck drivers include:
Speeding increases the chances of any driver losing control of their vehicle. Drivers in Houston specifically reported seeing speeding behavior daily. This makes sense as the Houston Police Department found that speeding contributed to 79 percent of car accidents in 2021. Speeding is also a contributing factor in over one-quarter of traffic fatalities nationwide.
Erratic or Sudden Lane Changes
Just like with any other vehicle, for the safety of others, truck drivers must use their turn signals to indicate they are about to switch lanes. If a truck driver foregoes using a blinker or changes lanes suddenly and without warning, other vehicles could easily be crushed or pushed off the road. Truck drivers must use turn signals when merging, changing lanes, or turning, as well as check their blind spots before merging or switching lanes to ensure other drivers are not cut off or collided with.
While it is common knowledge that passenger vehicles should leave plenty of room between their cars and other vehicles – especially semi-trucks – the same is true for truck drivers. Semi-truck operators must do their best to allow for ample space when traveling around other vehicles. However, at least one survey found that 51 percent of U.S. drivers admit to tailgating on purpose. Situations can quickly become dangerous in the event a truck driver decides to tailgate another vehicle, as it takes a much longer time for a semi-truck to come to a complete stop. This can quickly lead to a dangerous and potentially deadly trucking accident.
Drifting Into Other Lanes
If a truck driver begins to drift into the shoulder lane, it can pose serious safety risks for other unsuspecting drivers. Because the shoulder of the road is meant for emergencies or vehicle breakdowns rather than driving, many drivers use these spaces while they are both inside and outside of their vehicles. If a large commercial truck drifts onto the shoulder, others have the potential to be struck and killed in a fatal accident with a truck.
Violating Railroad Crossing Rules
Semi-trucks and regular-sized vehicles must come to a complete stop if a train is approaching a railroad crossing area. Vehicles should never attempt to race over the tracks, especially when a train is approaching. Ultimately, it is wise for a trucker to slow down and completely stop before crossing railroad tracks to allow other drivers to see if a train is approaching unexpectedly and to prevent a train collision. Unfortunately, incidents with aggressive drivers near train tracks can be potentially deadly as it is unlikely they will come to a complete stop or even attempt to slow down.
Running Red Lights or Stop Signs
The greater a truck’s mass and weight, the more stopping distance it requires. Truckers – especially those traveling at high speeds – often find it difficult to stop quickly enough for stop signs or red lights. Some truck drivers even blow through traffic lights and signs when they are fully capable of stopping despite being trained to always anticipate stopping and to stop. Truck drivers most often run red lights or miss stop signs because they are not paying attention or because they are engaging in otherwise negligent driving behavior.
Houston Truck Accident Attorneys
Aggressive drivers not only increase the risk of an auto accident, but they also violate the duty all drivers owe to other motorists – which is to operate their vehicles safely and responsibly. If you’ve been injured in a trucking accident caused by aggressive driving, contact the Houston personal injury attorneys at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. to discuss your legal options. We have decades of experience obtaining award-winning results for our clients in truck accident claims and we will fight to obtain the maximum possible compensation for you and your loved ones. Contact us today.