Accidents Caused by Truck Driver Fatigue
Tired truck drivers are everywhere on every street here in Texas. If you are on the roadway with a tired or fatigued truck driver, accidents can occur rather easily. Many times, those accidents will have devastating results. Our San Antonio, Texas truck accident attorneys can help you to recover the financial compensation owed to you after such an incident.
Trucking Accidents Related to Fatigue Are Many
Truck driver fatigue is a leading cause of commercial truck accidents in San Antonio and the state of Texas. Why does this happen? In many cases, trucking companies put profits before safety and pressure their drivers into operating on little sleep. After all, if the trucks aren’t moving, the trucking companies aren’t making money. This, added to the long hours, the monotonous type of work, and the late-night driving, creates a high risk for Texas trucking accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that each year, as many as 56,000 accidents occur on U.S. roadways due to driver fatigue. This creates over 40,000 injuries and as many as 1,500 deaths across the country. In Texas, where the trucking industry is so large and prominent due to the ports and manufacturing facilities here, these numbers are very dangerously high.
Aren’t There Laws About Truckers Driving Tired?
Keep in mind that all drivers – commercial and standard – should never drive when they are tired. If you are unable to handle your vehicle, you should not be on the road. However, there are both national and state laws that aim to minimize the risks to today’s drivers by maximizing the amount of time that drivers can spend on the road at one time. These laws apply to commercial truck drivers, including those driving semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, and tractor-trailers.
Here is a look at a few of the key laws designed to help keep tired truck drivers off the roadways:
- Drivers cannot work over 70 hours a week on average.
- Once a driver hits 70 hours for the week, the driver is then not able to work for at least 34 consecutive hours. This period of time must include at least two nights that span from 1 am until 5 am.
- All truck drivers must also abide by laws related to how many hours they can drive continuously. Drivers must have a 30-minute break off the road that is documented within their eight-hour shift.
Now, there is much more to this to consider. For example, new laws are also making it possible for trucking companies to monitor their drivers through electronic devices attached to vehicles virtually. If the truck driver is going too fast, driving too many hours, or is not idle long enough, the company can be held responsible for not managing their truck drivers properly. Unfortunately, many trucking companies don’t follow the state or federal regulations and this puts all of us at risk. This may make the trucking company responsible for any accidents drivers cause.
Why Is Driver Fatigue Such a Big Deal?
You may be wondering why it matters so much how much time off a driver gets. After all, you have probably pushed through a few long road trips yourself. Here’s the key. First, these drivers are doing this all the time. This becomes very monotonous, meaning it is easy for the mind to wander. Second, they are behind the wheel of very heavy trucks that can cause significant damage.
It is also important to know what driving tired actually means. For example, a person who is behind the wheel and has been awake for 24 hours or more straight is likely to display the same type of risks and poor driving skills as a person who has a blood alcohol content of 0.1 or higher. Fatigued drivers are:
- Unable to react fast enough to changing road conditions
- Likely to have decreased situational awareness – they don’t know what’s happening around them
- Less likely to focus on the road and easily distracted
- Likely to make poor judgment decisions behind the wheel
- Unable to respond to emergency situations fast enough
What does this mean for you? If you are on a Texas road with a truck driver that is tired and overworked, it is no different from being on the road with someone that is drunk.
What Should You Do If You Have Been in an Accident with a Fatigued Truck Driver?
Generally speaking, you may find it hard to know if the truck driver that caused your accident was fatigued. However, our legal team will go to work for you to gather information about the driver’s habits and time behind the wheel. We will also work with you to prove that the driver was, in fact, unable to operate a vehicle in a safe manner due to being tired. The evidence, in many cases, points to this.
If you have been in an accident with a fatigued truck driver, contact the San Antonio trucking accident law firm of Eric Ramos Law, PLLC for more information and guidance. We offer a free consultation to you to gather insight and give you information on what your legal options are.
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