Houston Truck Accident Lawyer Near Me
A truck is a motor vehicle designed to transport cargo. Trucks vary greatly in size, power, and configuration; smaller varieties may be mechanically similar to some automobiles. Commercial trucks can be very large and powerful and may be configured to be mounted with specialized equipment, such as in the case of refuse trucks, fire trucks, concrete mixers, and suction excavators. Strictly speaking, a commercial vehicle without a tractor or other articulation is a “straight truck” while one designed specifically to pull a trailer is not a truck but a “tractor”.
Modern trucks are largely powered by diesel engines, although small to medium size trucks with gasoline engines exist in the US, Canada, and Mexico.
In 1895 Karl Benz designed and built the first truck in history using the internal combustion engine. Later that year some of Benz’s trucks were modified to become the first bus by the Netphener, the first motorbus company in history. A year later, in 1896, another internal combustion engine truck was built by Gottlieb Daimler. Other companies, such as Peugeot, Renault and Büssing, also built their own versions. The first truck in the United States was built by Autocar in 1899 and was available with optional 5 or 8 horsepower motors.
Although it had been invented in 1897, the diesel engine did not appear in production trucks until Benz introduced it in 1923. The diesel engine was not common in trucks in Europe until the 1930s. In the United States, Autocar introduced diesel engines for heavy applications in the mid-1930s. Demand was high enough that Autocar launched the “DC” model (diesel conventional) in 1939. However, it took much longer for diesel engines to be broadly accepted in the US: gasoline engines were still in use on heavy trucks in the 1970s.
The first known usage of “truck” was in 1611, when it referred to the small strong wheels on ships’ cannon carriages. In its extended usage it came to refer to carts for carrying heavy loads, a meaning known since 1771. Its expanded application to “motor-powered load carrier” has been in usage since 1930, shortened from “motor truck”, which dates back to 1901.
The United States Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations deal with the relation between the gross weight of the truck, the number of axles, the weight on and the spacing between the axles that the truck can have on the Interstate highway system. Each State determines the maximum permissible vehicle, combination, and axle weight on state and local roads.
Almost all trucks share a common construction: they are made of a chassis, a cab, an area for placing cargo or equipment, axles, suspension and roadwheels, an engine and a drivetrain. Pneumatic, hydraulic, water, and electrical systems may also be present. Many also tow one or more trailers or semi-trailers.
Engines and motors
Diesel engines are becoming the engine of choice for trucks ranging from class 3 to 8 GVWs. A large proportion of refuse trucks in the United States employ CNG (compressed natural gas) engines for their low fuel cost and reduced carbon emissions.
A significant proportion of North American manufactured trucks use an engine built by the last remaining major independent engine manufacturer (Cummins) but most global OEMs such as Volvo Trucks and Daimler AG promote their own “captive” engines.
As of 2019 several alternative technologies are competing to displace the use of diesel engines in heavy trucks. CNG engines are widely used in the US refuse industry and in concrete mixers, among other short-range vocations, but range limitations have prevented their broader uptake in freight hauling applications. Heavy electric trucks and hydrogen-powered trucks are still in the prototype and field-testing stages, although media reports indicate that there is substantial interest in them from major freight haulers.
Refrigerator trucks have insulated panels as walls and a roof and floor, used for transporting fresh and frozen cargo such as ice cream, food, vegetables, and prescription drugs. They are mostly equipped with double-wing rear doors, but a side door is sometimes fitted.
Concrete mixers have a rotating drum on an inclined axis, rotating in one direction to mix, and in the other to discharge the concrete down chutes. Because of the weight and power requirements of the drum body and rough construction sites, mixers have to be very heavy duty.
Dump trucks transport loose material such as sand, gravel, or dirt for construction. A typical dump truck has an open-box bed, which is hinged at the rear and lifts at the front, allowing the material in the bed to be unloaded (“dumped”) on the ground behind the truck.
Semi-tractors have a fifth wheel for towing a semi-trailer instead of a body.
Tank trucks are designed to carry liquids or gases. They usually have a cylindrical tank lying horizontally on the chassis. Many variants exist due to the wide variety of liquids and gases that can be transported.
In the United States, a commercial driver’s license is required to drive any type of commercial vehicle weighing 26,001 lb (11.8 t) or more.The federal government regulates how many hours a driver may be on the clock, how much rest and sleep time is required (e.g., 11 hours driving/14 hours on-duty followed by 10 hours off, with a maximum of 70 hours/8 days or 60 hours/7 days, 34 hours restart ) Violations are often subject to significant penalties. Instruments to track each driver’s hours must sometimes be fitted. In 2006, the US trucking industryemployed 1.8 million drivers of heavy trucks. There is a shortage of willing trained long distance truck drivers.
Part of the reason for the shortage is the economic fallout from deregulation of the trucking industry. Michael H. Belzer is an internationally recognized expert on the trucking industry, especially the institutional and economic impact of deregulation. He is an associate professor, in the economics department at Wayne State University. He is the author of Sweatshops on Wheels: Winners and Losers in Trucking Deregulation (Oxford University Press, 2000). His major opus was critically well received. Low pay, bad working conditions and unsafe conditions have been a direct result of deregulation. “[This book] argues that trucking embodies the dark side of the new economy.”“Conditions are so poor and the pay system so unfair that long-haul companies compete with the fast-food industry for workers. Most long-haul carriers experience 100% annual driver turnover. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote: “The cabs of 18-wheelers have become the sweatshops of the new millennium, with some truckers toiling up to 95 hours per week for what amounts to barely more than the minimum wage. [This book] is eye-opening in its appraisal of what the trucking industry has become.”
In 2002 and 2004, there were over 5,000 fatalities related to trucking accidents in the United States. The trucking industry has since made significant efforts in increasing safety regulations. In 2008 the industry had successfully lowered the fatality rate to just over 4,000 deaths. But trucking accidents are still an issue that causes thousands of deaths and injuries each year. Approximately 6,000 trucking accident fatalities occur annually in the United States. Fatalities are not the only issue caused by trucking accidents. Here are some of the environmental issues that arise with trucking accidents:
- 14.4% of trucking accidents cause cargo to spill
- 6.5% cause open flames
Following increased pressure from The Times “Cities Fit For Cycling” campaign and from other media in Spring 2012, warning signs are now displayed on the backs of many HGVs. These signs are directed against a common type of accident which occurs when the large vehicle turns left at a junction: a cyclist trying to pass on the nearside can be crushed against the HGV’s wheels, especially if the driver cannot see the cyclist. The signs, such as the winning design of the In TANDEM road safety competition launched in March 2012, advocate extra care when passing a large vehicle on the nearside.
Types of Truck