You’ve probably seen warnings about the dangers of drunk driving or texting while driving. But one very dangerous practice that you won’t see on as many billboards is drowsy driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2017, over 91,000 traffic accidents involved drowsy drivers– and those are just the accidents reported to police. That same year, drowsy driving accidents resulted in almost 800 deaths on the road.
Nowhere is drowsy driving a bigger problem than in the trucking industry. Pushed by the pressure of deadlines and trucking companies asking them to work longer and longer hours, many truck drivers develop fatigue over their many hours on the road. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead them to fatigue-related accidents.
Read on to find out the main causes of fatigue in the trucking industry, and how our experienced team of Austin attorneys at the Stewart Law Firm can help you seek compensation if your accident was caused by a fatigued truck driver.
Causes of fatigued driving
Here are a few of the most common problems that lead to fatigue-related accidents.
- Violation of Hours of Service Regulations: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the trucking industry, and is responsible for the Hours of Service rules which limit how long a truck driver can operate their vehicle before taking a rest period. These regulations also determine how long the rest period must be and how many total hours a truck driver can work in 7 or 8 consecutive days. Failure to abide by these rules can result in a fatigued driver, which can lead to a serious crash.
- Falsified Driver Logs: Truck drivers are required to log their hours of operation to show that they are abiding by the Hours of Service regulations. Unfortunately, the pressures of the job sometimes lead drivers or their employers to falsify the amount of time they have been driving. Usually, in the case of a trucking crash, driver logs may be a part of the evidence that can be used to prove negligence. If this data is false or incorrect, it could prevent the victim of the crash from receiving full compensation.
- Pressure of Deadlines: Fatigued driving is not always the fault of the driver in this industry. Remember, these drivers are often working with a specified deadline regarding when the goods they’re transporting must be delivered. Because these deadlines are often very tight, the trucking company owner may force and encourage the driver to violate the Hours of Service regulations in order to meet the tight deadline. They may threaten the driver that he or she would lose their job if they don’t comply.
- Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medication:Truck drivers work long hours, often sitting in the same position the entire time. This can cause pain and medical issues, which the driver may treat with prescription over-the-counter medication. Unfortunately, some of the medication it takes to help cure these ailments often causes fatigue and drowsiness. This can lead to a serious crash if the driver does start to become drowsy while driving.
What to do if you’re the victim of a tired truck driver accident
The unfortunate fact is that these issues can cause serious injury and sometimes even death when they lead to accidents.
If you are involved in an accident caused by a fatigued driver, you may be wondering what you can do to seek compensation for your losses.
You should always file an insurance claim, even if you suspect you may have to take the case to court.
Then, if the insurance settlement isn’t enough to compensate you for your losses, or if you suspect the accident may have been caused by negligence, you may want to file a lawsuit.
It can be difficult to determine who is liable in the case of a fatigue-related commercial truck accident, because there are so many parties involved.
With the help of an experienced Texas truck accident attorney, you can investigate whether liability falls to the driver, the trucking company, or some other party such as the cargo shipper that hired the trucking company to deliver the goods.
Once you’ve decided to file a lawsuit, there will be some important pieces of evidence that you and your attorney will need to collect in order to demonstrate liability, or even prove that the driver or their employer acted negligently.
Here are some of the records you will want to investigate:
- Driver hour logs
- Prior violations by the driver
- Accident-site drug testing
- Event data recorders
- Dashboard cameras
Hire a truck accident lawyer in Austin today
Driving fatigue is very dangerous for any other drivers on the road, and can sometimes be caused by a violation of the regulations that govern the trucking industry.
If you or someone you love was hurt in a crash involving one of these large commercial trucks, the experienced attorneys at The Stewart Law Firm can help you work towards getting the full compensation you deserve.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.