Truck driver fatigue is a major cause of trucking accidents in Texas.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as many as 13% of commercial truck drivers are fatigued at the time of a crash. If you or a loved one were injured or killed in a truck accident caused by driver fatigue, you have legal rights under the law. You should reach out to a Houston truck accident attorney as soon as possible.
What are the Effects of Truck Driver Fatigue?
Many people are surprised to learn that driving while tired is similar to drunk driving. Fatigue has a negative effect on vision, reaction time, coordination, and judgment. For example, it can cause a truck driver to veer into oncoming traffic or forget to check their blind spot before changing lanes. Truck accidents caused by driver fatigue are often catastrophic.
Because of their size, accidents involving trucks frequently result in severe injuries and even death.
What are the Regulations Relating to Rest for Truck Drivers?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates the amount of rest truck drivers must take and limits the hours they can work. These regulations are sometimes referred to as Hours of Service regulations. They apply to truckers that operate in interstate commerce. In addition, Texas has its own rules for truckers in intrastate commerce.
The Hour of Service rules states that truckers can drive a maximum of 11 hours after taking 10 hours off duty. The limit can be extended by up to two hours if the trucker encounters adverse driving conditions. In addition, truck drivers must take a 30-minute break when they have driven for eight hours without taking at least a 30-minute interruption. Finally, truck drivers must take 34 or more consecutive hours off-duty after spending 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.
It is not uncommon for truck drivers in Texas to violate these regulations. There are various reasons why this happens. First, truck drivers could be pressured by trucking companies or subcontractors to deliver their goods by pre-set deadlines that are unreasonable. For example, the deadlines may not consider traffic patterns, potential accidents, or construction delays. Furthermore, some truck drivers are paid by the mile instead of by the hour. This system creates a financial motive for truckers to drive longer than the guidelines if they are delayed by an accident, traffic jam, or construction.
Moreover, it is possible for truck drivers to become fatigued even when following these regulations, and no one can force drivers to actually sleep during their breaks.
What Should I Do I Suspect Fatigue Caused a Truck Accident in Houston?
There are many reasons why you may suspect that your accident was caused, at least in part, by driver fatigue. Perhaps you noticed erratic driving behavior before the accident, such as drifting in and out of the lane. Or maybe the driver appeared tired or disorientated during interactions after the accident.
You should communicate any signs of fatigue that you recognize to the police so that they can be included in the police record. You should also reach out to an experienced Houston truck accident attorney because you may be entitled to significant damages. Truck accident cases are complicated, especially when driver fatigue plays a role in causing the accident.
How Will Your Attorney Prove Truck Driver Fatigue?
Proving that driver fatigue caused a trucking accident usually requires that your attorney conduct a complex investigation. For example, your attorney will likely examine the truck’s records. Drivers must record their hours of service, and many trucks have built-in systems to maintain this data automatically. Some trucks have a logbook where drivers must manually enter their hours or miles are driven (which can be used to estimate time on the road).
Your attorney may also review other documentary evidence to calculate mileage and hours on the road. This evidence can include toll receipts, gas station receipts, hotel receipts, and bills of lading.
Your Houston Truck Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one were involved in a trucking accident, call the Paxton Law Firm. We have represented injured persons involved in these types of accidents for nearly twenty years.
Let us review your case and advise you of your rights. The Paxton Law Firm believes in taking the stress of dealing with your legal battles and turning a negative situation into the best possible outcome lady justice allows. We offer free consultations, and you do not pay any legal fees until we recover for you.