Leading Causes of Texas Last Mile Delivery Truck Accidents

The last mile delivery industry is exploding across the country. Texas is no exception. Consumers and businesses alike rely on delivery trucks to keep their shelves stocked and their pantries full. The disturbing downside of this trend is that delivery truck accidents in Texas are snowballing.

In 2023, there were more truck accidents in Texas than any other state. California was in second place for having the most trucking accidents, but Texas had twice as many truck wrecks as California. A shortage of skilled and experienced delivery truck drivers in combination with new, poorly trained and distracted drivers is only part of the problem.

Delivery truck accidents, whether they involve a bicycle messenger, UPS truck accident, mid-size delivery van collision or an 18-wheeler, are almost always more serious than collisions involving passenger cars.

Any Texas accident lawyer or quick internet search will confirm that accidents involving last mile delivery trucks can leave passenger car victims with devastating and life-changing injuries as well as trauma from which they may never recover.

What Are Last Mile Deliveries?

Last mile deliveries are picked up by trucks, scooters, vans or even drones and transported from a holding center or distribution center to the customer. The last mile delivery process was designed to reduce the time and the costs of reliably delivering goods to consumers and businesses.

As the pandemic restrictions were implemented and people started working from home, the need for delivery services increased exponentially. In order to meet the mushrooming demand, trucking companies needed experienced and qualified last mile delivery drivers, and they needed those drivers in a hurry.

The pandemic may be over, but there are more trucks on U.S. roadways than ever before. Consumers and businesses alike are hooked on the convenience of online shopping, and scores of big rigs and small trucks are on the move to meet the ever-increasing demand.

What the truck companies learned is that good truck drivers are hard to find. The larger the truck and the bigger the load, the more likely the risk of an accident. A slew of poorly trained and inexperienced delivery truck drivers was a recipe for disaster.

What Makes Delivery Truck Collisions So Dangerous?

Delivery truck collisions are significantly more likely to result in fatalities than wrecks involving passenger autos. In most last mile delivery truck wrecks, it’s the passenger car occupants who are hurt the most.

Drivers travel long distances governed by tight and inflexible schedules. They are under extreme pressure to make deliveries on time. To get the job done and avoid paying a late-delivery penalty, drivers skip meals, skimp on sleep and don’t take required breaks.

Truckers forgo sleep for days at a time and rely on drugs to keep them awake. Although these practices might help truckers to meet their deadlines, they can just as easily result in catastrophic collisions with multiple fatalities.

Constant stress and sleep deprivation can take a heavy toll on a driver’s judgment, reaction time and critical thinking. It can lead to distracted driving, nodding off behind the wheel and other dangerous driving practices that put truck drivers and passenger cars alike at substantial risk.

Why Are There so Many Texas Truck Accidents?

Constant stress and sleep deprivation take a heavy toll on a driver’s judgment, reaction time and critical thinking ability. Drivers who are rushing to make on-time deliveries can fall prey to unsafe practices that put themselves and other drivers at substantial risk of collision.

While the number of Texas last mile delivery truck accidents continues to climb, researchers have identified several leading causes for the majority of the wrecks:

Driver negligence

Negligent drivers fail to uphold a certain standard of care. Texas delivery truck drivers are responsible for following traffic laws and for operating their delivery trucks in a safe and responsible manner. The most common acts of negligence are texting and talking on the phone while driving.

The following actions typically result from negligence and increase the potential for a wreck:

  • Changing lanes without signalling or checking for other vehicles
  • Exceeding the speed limit
  • Ignoring traffic signs
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Texting or talking on a cellular device while driving
  • Running a stop sign or a red light
  • Making an illegal turn
  • Driving while fatigued, sleepy, sick or otherwise impaired

Driver error

According to research conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), driver error is 10 times more likely to cause a collision than other variables. The investigators concluded that four critical components of driver error were present in over 50% of the 141,000 truck accidents they examined:

  • Physical impairment: Driver became disabled
  • Perceptual impairment: Driver failed to perceive a hazard in time to avoid it
  • Performance impairment: Driver going too fast for existing conditions or tailgating other vehicles
  • Impaired attention: Distraction prevented the driver from correctly assessing and adjusting for the situation

Driver training

Driver error has been cited as the cause of most trucking wrecks. If that’s true, then driver training should be mandated without delay. As delivery truck accidents continue to spiral, several other safety issues must also be addressed.

The U.S. Department of transportation projects that the next 30 years will see last mile delivery trucks transporting 40% more freight than they already do. A severe shortage of knowledgeable drivers will compel trucking companies to hire young and inexperienced drivers to keep up with the ever-increasing demand. And that, in turn, will foster more danger on the roads for delivery trucks and passenger vehicles alike.

Inexperienced and poorly trained drivers are at high risk for accidents. They need in-depth instruction from knowledgeable drivers, supervised training on the road and a thorough understanding of the truck they will drive.

Maintenance and mechanical failure

Compared to passenger cars, cargo delivery trucks are large and complex. A lot can go wrong. Last mile delivery trucks work hard every day, and they require a lot of attention to operate safely. Spotty vehicle maintenance can cause devastating crashes, blown-out tires and loose loads that come undone on the highway.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Fatal Causation Study, 30% of truck accidents had at least one safety issue. The most common malfunctions are listed here:

  • Transmission failure
  • Unbalanced load
  • Defective lights and turn signals
  • Manufacturing defects
  • Poorly maintained brakes
  • Improperly inflated or worn-out tires
  • Poor overall maintenance
  • Missing safety equipment

Impossible timelines

Clients want deliveries quickly. To meet the demand, trucking companies promise more than they can reasonably give. Truckers who carry these rush loads must work within timelines that do not allow for delays.

This situation puts drivers under extreme stress. Truckers working within these tight parameters are at high risk for accidents as are other motorists in the vicinity. An experienced Texas accident attorney can build a compelling case for an injured accident victim in situations such as these.

The only way to correct the problem is to make driver safety as important as client satisfaction. Trucking companies make more money on rush deliveries, but well-rested and wide awake truckers will get the job done more efficiently than stressed-out drivers who don’t sleep and can’t take the time to eat lunch.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the cost to a trucking company when one of their drivers is involved in a fatal accident can exceed $500,000. Many of these smash-ups could be prevented if driver safety was prioritized.

Backing up

Researchers at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that over half of all large truck wrecks took place while the driver was backing up. Last mile delivery trucks often have to be squeezed into tight spaces, awkward loading docks and parking garages that impair a driver’s ability to see what’s behind them.

Heavy cargo is another impediment for drivers who are backing up because it gives them less control of their vehicles. Making matters even worse is the conflict drivers face when they are trying to back up safely and unload while simultaneously moving quickly enough to meet a deadline.

Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation can seriously compromise a trucker’s ability to drive safely. Chronically fatigued drivers are significantly more likely to exercise poor judgment and take risks on the road that put themselves and other motorists in grave danger.

Truckers who get less than seven hours of sleep over one 24-hour period are more likely to be involved in accidents or to cause them compared to rested drivers who get a full eight hours.

After 24 sleepless hours, irritability, headaches, poor reaction time, poor concentration and jitters can develop. Symptoms of sleep deprivation can appear quickly and without warning. A driver might feel fully awake and alert upon setting off with a load only to lose the ability to remain wakeful halfway through the journey.

After 48 hours, it becomes impossible to stay awake. A sleep-deprived person can develop hallucinations to the point of being unable to perceive what’s real and what’s not. According to studies performed by NHTSA, sleep deprived truckers are involved in nearly 4,000 truck-related deaths each year.

Distracted driving

The NHTSA reported that distracted driving is responsible for most rear-end collisions. Most distracted driving consists of interacting with cell phones instead of watching the road. Distractions can also include fiddling with GPS devices and eating while driving. Data analysis has revealed that cell phone use while driving can reduce a trucker’s reaction time significantly.

Roadway congestion

Many last mile delivery vehicles must travel through dense, high-traffic areas where the probability of an accident is high. Frequent stops and starts, pedestrians cutting across the roadway, tailgating, motorists pulling out of parking lots and unexpected lane changes all combine to create a set of hazards that even seasoned last mile truckers find challenging.

FedEx and UPS Delivery Truck Accidents

A recent FMCSA study found that over the last two years, UPS drivers were involved in 2,842 wrecks. FedEx drivers were involved in 2,757 wrecks. The number of crash rates per carrier were similar and differed by only 85 wrecks.

Who Is at Fault in a Texas Delivery Truck Collision?

Texas is an at fault state. Under the law, injured accident victims can hold liable the parties at fault by filing a lawsuit and asking the court to award them full compensation for all their injuries.

Many people who have been injured by last mile delivery trucks mistakenly believe that trucking companies have sufficient resources to fairly compensate the victims who are injured by their trucks. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

Instead, trucking companies spend their money on cutthroat lawyers who do their best to ensure that accident victims get as little compensation as possible regardless of how seriously they have been hurt.

Protect Yourself and Preserve Your Rights

Whether you’ve been hit by a big rig, sideswiped by a utility van or injured in a USPS truck accident, call a Texas accident injury lawyer immediately for a no-cost confidential case evaluation.

You may be entitled to full financial compensation for all of your losses. If you have a case, an experienced and knowledgeable Texas accident injury attorney can defend you in court and keep the trucking company’s aggressive lawyers from taking advantage of your situation.