Despite the efforts of local and state regulators, Wise County, Texas—located just north of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex—remains one of the deadliest counties in the nation for trucking accidents. Many of these accidents involve rock haulers that are frequently overloaded with cargo and poorly maintained by the trucking companies that operate them.
According to data from the state of Texas, Wise County ranks fourth in the state for the number of deaths from trucking accidents—just behind three of the largest urban areas of the state. Between 2000 and 2005, Wise County had more than 13 times as many deaths per capita as the entire Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Drivers near the giant rock quarries located between Chico and Bridgeport, and along the county’s main highways—State Highway 144, U.S. Highway 380, and U.S. Highway 287—are at an increased risk of serious injury or death from a trucking accident.
Despite the outrageous number of deaths caused by large trucks in Wise County, law enforcement officials and state regulators have only a limited ability to monitor trucks that operate in the area. The Texas Department of Public Safety has assigned only four truck inspectors to Wise County, although an estimated 400 trucks pass by the county seat in Decatur every hour. As a result, trucking companies have little fear that their vehicles will be stopped for inspection, allowing them to blatantly ignore safety regulations designed to keep other drivers safe.
Many rock haulers and other large trucks in Wise County operate with faulty brakes, worn out tires, or other safety hazards that could increase the risk of deadly accidents. After conducting annual safety inspections to check on the condition of large trucks in Wise County, officials with the Texas Department of Transportation pulled 39% of the trucks they inspected off the road due to safety violations.
The safety problems caused by poorly maintained trucks in Wise County are compounded by the fact that rock trucks often operate above the 80,000 pound weight limit mandated by the State of Texas. Because many truckers who work for rock hauling companies are paid by the amount of material they transport, drivers frequently put unsafe rock loads in their vehicles, driving them at dangerous speeds from one location to the next in order to maximize the low base pay they receive from the trucking companies.
Too often, the end result of these safety violations is the death of innocent drivers and passengers who are involved in a crash with rock haulers or other large trucks. Lawsuits against trucking companies that operate these vehicles have found that despite the safety risks, many companies still pay their drivers by the load—encouraging them to drive their overloaded trucks at dangerous speeds—while failing to perform proper maintenance on their vehicles.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a truck accident in Chico, Bridgeport, or another town in Wise County, Texas, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit and receive compensation. For a free legal consultation about your case, contact the experienced truck accident lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson. You can reach us by calling our toll-free hotline at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our free online case evaluation form.