Truck Crashes Caused by Driver Fatigue
Driver fatigue is a major cause of truck accidents in Houston. For this reason, the federal government has issued regulations limiting the maximum amount of hours truck drivers can operate a big rig without a break. Even so, many drivers spend too much time on the road without a rest or without adequate sleep. The consequences can be
devastatingly similar to intoxication and lead to serous injuries or death in a collision. 18 wheelers and other Commercial vehicles such as those transporting goods or passengers are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”). This agency promulgates rules and regulations designed to avoid driver fatigue and thereby reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers who are tired or who have actually fallen asleep. Some of these important regulations applying to commercial drivers and their operators to prevent truck accidents include:
- Maximum Drive Time. FMCSA regulations prohibit commercial truck drivers from driving unless they have been off duty for at least 10 consecutive hours. Only then can they work a total of 11 hours in the 14 hours. Trucks leaving Houston and driving across Texas can easily exceed that time in one trip. They are required to take at least 30 minutes for a break every 8 hours. Vehicles transporting passengers such as buses cannot work more than 10 hours after at least 8 hours off duty. Obviously, truck accidents will occur more frequently if the drivers work too long without a break or sleep.
- Driver Logs. Logs are an important tool in determining the exact cause of a truck accident and the resulting injuries. The government also requires drivers to keep logs of their drive times, breaks and hours on duty. This is also done to prevent driver fatigue. The logs must be kept in the driver’s possession for the previous 7 days and is subject to inspection. Furthermore, the company must keep the driver’s logs in the office for at least six months. Driver logs can be important evidence in the event of a truck accident and can show if the accident was caused by driver fatigue. Lawyers for truck accident victims can use this information to prove the cause of the accident in court.
How Do We Prove That Fatigue Caused the Truck Accident?
We issue Texas court subpoenas after a serious truck accident to determine if the driver violated any rules and regulations.
- Required amount of sleep. We will determine from records if this was a contributing factor in the wreck. Drivers are required by law to take 10 hours off after a full days work. Whether they sleep and rest at home, in a hotel or in “berths” behind the cab the same rule applies. Less sleep results in more truck accidents and injuries or deaths.
- Rest during the day. Houston truck drivers who drive the daily maximum of 11 hours are required by law to take at least a 30 minute break after 8 hours of consecutive driving. Log books will be subpoenaed to see if there was a violation. Lack of rest is just as dangerous as lack of sleep in causing truck and car accidents.
- Medications that can make you drowsy. Our investigation will uncover if the driver was prescribed any medication that could have impaired their ability to drive and cause the truck accident. Many medications can make you drowsy including cold and flu medications.
- Medical conditions. We will obtain medical records to see if the truck driver had any medical conditions that could have caused them to be fatigued and cause the accident Some of the dangerous medical conditions for truck drivers include:
- Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep Apnea
- Over active or under active Thyroid
- Depression or Anxiety
- If you feel drowsy get off the road or you will cause an accident. Through interviews and discovery we will find out if the driver fell asleep or if their fatigue contributed to your accident. A driver’s ability to react to driving situations is impaired when they are drowsy or fatigued which can cause serious accidents.
If you have been injured in a truck accident in Houston or anywhere else in Texas, call Personal Injury Specialist Michael P. Fleming for a free consultation.