Roadway lighting plays a large role in driver safety. Adequate road lighting makes it easier for drivers to identify signs, other vehicles, and hazards. Though proper lighting is crucial for all drives, it’s particularly important for those manning big rigs. Commercial truck drivers depend on streetlights to guide them down urban and rural roads and to help stay them awake and alert. Inadequate roadway lighting in Texas can be dangerous and result in preventable truck accidents. It is up to each city to install and maintain roadway lighting to reduce this risk.
The Risks of Nighttime Driving
There were more than twice as many traffic accidents in “dark, not lighted” conditions (29,757) than “dark, lighted” (12,744) in Texas in 2016. It is more difficult for any driver to maneuver safely as roadway light diminishes. Most urban highways in Texas have some kind of lighting system, but rural highways and smaller roads often do not. This increases crash frequency and severity. There is a high risk of accidents when lack of proper lighting is combined with long nighttime driving hours and drowsy truck drivers.
Truck drivers aren’t the only ones who suffer in poor lighting. It is difficult to see 18-wheelers in the dark, despite their large size. The non-reflective sides of most trailers make them almost invisible in low-light conditions. Trucks should have reflectors or lights on the top and bottom of the trailer to help improve visibility. Broken lights or no lights at all can lead to another driver plowing straight into the truck. In these cases, the trucking company may be liable for the accident. The city also may also be responsible for poor roadway lighting.
Who May Be Liable?
After a truck accident, a victim’s first thought is likely to hold the driver liable. This may be the case if the driver behaved in a way that breached industry standards, such as falling asleep behind the wheel. If a dangerous roadway condition contributed to the crash, you may be able to hold the city of Dallas (or other municipality) responsible. Inadequate roadway lighting is a dangerous condition in the eyes of the law. What constitutes “inadequate lighting” depends on the specific area. Factors a city must consider when deciding where and how to install lights include:
- Traffic volume and speed
- Nighttime road use and crash rate
- Road geometrics
- General nighttime visibility
- Style, height, and brightness of the fixtures
Partial lighting may be adequate and reasonable for conditions in some areas. In others, a specific type or brightness of light may be necessary. An investigation will reveal whether the city fulfilled its duties in installing a certain type of light for the particular section of roadway. If the courts decide that the city failed to provide lighting to protect drivers, victims of light-related truck accidents may be able to recover compensation. Suing a municipality in Texas is possible, but it is more difficult than typical lawsuits. Since commercial vehicle accidents are very different from car accidents, you should seek help from an attorney specializing in large truck accidents if you think you have a case against the city for inadequate roadway lighting.