If you plan to drive on I-20 in Texas between Odessa/Midland and Abilene, refer to the following steps to stay safe.
- Know the Causes of Accidents
- Know Your Resources
- Drive Safely
- Know What To Do In An Accident
- Contact an Auto Accident Injury Attorney
Interstate 20 stretches through much of the Southern United States. I-20 begins in West Texas and connects the West Coast to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, then stretches from Texas to South Carolina. It serves communities like Midland, Odessa, Big Springs, and Abilene within the state.
This highway is an important route for travelers and commerce. But currently, I-20 is ranked as the 8th most dangerous highway in the country. Accidents happen regularly on the I-20, so if you’re involved in one, know that you aren’t alone. Between 2015 and 2019, there were 390 fatal crashes on this road in Texas and 412 total fatalities. Many of these accidents, and those that take place on freeways, involve 18-wheelers in addition to passenger vehicles.
At Ketterman Rowland and Westlund, we have served thousands of personal injury victims in Texas, including those involved in commercial vehicle accidents. If you plan to drive on I-20, please refer to the following essential steps to stay safe.
Step One: Know the Causes of Accidents
In Abilene, TX, many major roads and highways converge on I-20. The interstate is a major route for trucks carrying merchandise and travelers headed to other states. That means many types of vehicles on the same road, entering and exiting a major, high-speed highway.
This is important because those conditions can lead to accidents. Large commercial vehicles, like 18-wheelers, can cause more injuries and damage when involved in an accident. Entrance and exit ramps are also common spots for accidents to occur. High speeds make it hard to stop, and without much space between vehicles, there isn’t much room for error.
Poor weather conditions can also contribute to accidents. Rain can decrease visibility and increase the time your car needs to stop. Lighting on the highway is also a contributing factor. I-20 is one of the “darkest” highways, where it’s hard for drivers to see well at night.
When these factors–many types of vehicles, lots of entrances and exits, speeds, weather, and lighting–come together, they make accidents more likely to occur.
Step Two: Know Your Resources
You don’t need to avoid I-20. Staying aware and being prepared can help you stay safe on the road. Before heading out, keep an eye on the news to see if there are accidents to be on the lookout for or weather conditions that might make it harder to drive. Following is a list of resources to help you stay safe:
- West Texas Oil Field Traffic Update Facebook Group
- State Websites like DriveTexas and RoadNow
- Midland local news, like NewsWest9
- Odessa local news stations, like CBS7.
- Abilene local news stations, like KTXS
- Local radio news stations like KACU 89.5 or KXWT 91.3
Checking these resources can help you prepare for the conditions you might encounter on the road.
Step Three: Drive Safely
A highway like I-20 needs a lot of your awareness and focus. Never drive when you are impaired, including when you’re tired. If you can, avoid driving in severe weather. The following is a list of reminders for safe freeway driving:
- Pass on the left, not on the right.
- Leave lots of room between your vehicle and those in front of you.
- Keep your eyes on the road and be alert for hazards.
- Pay special attention in work zones or when driving near accidents.
- Turn your headlights on before dusk and keep them clean.
- Don’t drive much faster or slower than the traffic around you.
- Avoid driving in another car’s blind spot.
- Remember to check your blind spot.
- Wear your seat belt.
For truckers, it’s essential to pay attention to the amount of sleep you’re getting and take a nap if you’re feeling drowsy. Maintaining a healthy diet and being aware of side effects from any medications you take will also help you remain alert.
For those driving around trucks, it’s essential to increase your following distance and stay in view. An 18-wheeler’s blind spots might include:
- 20 feet in front of the truck
- 30 feet behind the truck
- The width of one lane on the left, extending to about half the truck’s length
- The width of two lanes on the right, extending behind the truck
Avoid trying to exit if you’ll have to make a dangerous maneuver to get there. It’s better to miss an exit and take the next one than to risk an accident. Don’t attempt to back up or cross the median to exit.
Exiting and entering the highway can be the most dangerous parts of driving on these roads. When entering or exiting the freeway, remember to take these steps:
- Use your turn signal
- Check your mirrors and blind spots
- Remember who has the right of way
- Try not to hesitate
- Check the speed limits on the road, and make sure to accelerate and decelerate safely
Step Four: Know What to Do In An Accident
If an accident happens while you’re on I-20, it’s not unusual for an 18-wheeler to be involved. When an 18-wheeler is involved, other vehicles will likely be involved as well because of the size of the truck.
If you are involved in an accident, move to the side of the road. If you cannot exit your vehicle, keep your seatbelt and hazard flashers on. Be careful when moving–shock might stop you from noticing any injuries and can keep you from thinking logically and avoiding danger.
Once you have reached a safe place, you should take these steps:
- Call 911 immediately.
- Seek medical attention, even if you don’t think you’re seriously injured.
- Collect information from witnesses.
- Photograph or record damage.
Being treated by a medical professional is particularly important in an accident involving a large commercial vehicle. Medical attention can help treat severe or hidden injuries, and a doctor’s testimony can be helpful in a legal case. Make sure to obtain copies of any documentation or testimony before leaving the hospital.
Step Five: Contact a Collision Lawyer
Contacting a lawyer in an accident is essential, especially when 18-wheelers are involved. That’s because injuries can be more severe in truck accidents and because evidence and insurance companies might work differently than in other cases.
That is because insurance payouts can be more significant in cases involving trucks. Truck insurance companies often don’t want to pay. Your lawyer will have to work fast to collect the evidence to get the compensation you deserve, so it’s essential to contact one right away.
Your lawyer will also need to obtain evidence from the trucking company. These companies follow federal and state laws regulating their activities, often complicating legal processes. That process can also be complicated by the other parties in an accident involving a truck, such as:
- Truck drivers
- Truck owners
- Employers of truck drivers
- Truck parts manufacturers
- Maintenance companies
- Freight owners
- Drivers and owners of other vehicles
Contact Us Today
After an 18-wheeler accident, you may face severe injuries that lead to missed work and substantial medical bills. Multiple insurance companies trying to contact you and uncertainty over your next steps can worsen your emotional pain.
If you’re facing these struggles, it’s time to contact an accident injury attorney who can help you as you go through the legal processes. An experienced law firm will work fast to collect evidence and assemble a robust case to address your pain and suffering, loss of work, and insurance claims.
At Ketterman Rowland & Westlund (KRW Lawyers), our experienced accident claims lawyers are there for you from your initial consultation to your settlement. An accident can disrupt your life, but we won’t back down in our fight to get you the compensation you deserve. We handle the legal hassle and give you the space and privacy to heal.
Call KRW Lawyers, “Your one powerful law firm.” We serve you by:
- Collecting evidence to support your case
- Conducting powerful negotiations
- Providing you and your case personalized attention
- Answering your questions as your case moves forward