Drowsy-Driving Causes Truck Accidents in Texas
The trucking industry is a high-pressure business. The country’s economic engine is in many ways tied directly to trucks. After all, trucks and truckers move goods and supplies around the nation quickly and efficiently, allowing us to get the things we want and need when and where we need them. But accomplishing that requires an impressive amount of efficiency. And sometimes — arguably, far too often — truckers feel pressured to cut corners in order to make more deliveries and to make them faster. This leads to fatigue. And a tired truck driver leads to accidents — often deadly ones.
If you think truck driver hours should be regulated, you’d be right. In fact, there are federal regulations that truckers and trucking companies are required to abide by. If you've been in an accident with a tired truck driver, our Pasadena Texas truck accident lawyer can protect your right to compensation.
A Look at the Federal Regulations
The rules governing how long a trucker can drive and how long they must rest are pretty straightforward.
- A truck driver is not allowed to drive more than 60 in seven days.
- Once they reach 60 hours in a seven-day period, they must rest for 34 hours.
- A truck driver is limited to 11 hours of driving at a stretch.
Even if someone is following those regulations to the letter, it is easy to see how fatigue might set in. Work weeks are 20 hours longer than most folks work — and 11 hours doing any one thing (let alone safely operating an enormous vehicle) is going to be tiring.
But things get worse when truckers feel pressured to bend or break the rules, resulting in a tired truck driver and an open road.
High Speeds and Overloads
In addition to putting in more hours than are allowed by the federal regulations, some truckers — especially those who feel pressured by their employers to maximize profits by ignoring safety requirements — may resort to driving well above the speed limit in order to complete their routes more quickly. Of course, trucks traveling at higher speeds are harder to control and are even more dangerous to other drivers in the event of a crash.
In other cases, a driver might overload a truck in order to get more material moving at once. This might shorten delivery times, but it also can make the truck much more difficult to manage. Again, catastrophic accidents are a potential result of this dangerous practice.
We should also note that Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules do allow drivers to exceed their allotted hours under “emergency conditions.” While that might seem like a reasonable exception that would allow needed commerce and deliveries to continue even in difficult moments, the fact is that “emergency conditions” is a term that the FMCSA does not specifically define. As a result, unscrupulous trucking companies feel empowered to decide emergency conditions exist whenever it is to their advantage to say so. That means some truckers are out there on the roads suffering from extreme fatigue but convinced their employer has the right to require them to keep driving — which puts them and all the other drivers they encounter at risk.
In an Accident With a Tired Truck Driver? You Need an Injury Attorney in Houston to Protect Your Rights
After an accident involving a tired truck driver, you will quite rightly feel entitled to compensation for any and all injuries you sustain. But you won’t be able to pursue fair compensation on your own. Instead, you need an injury attorney in Houston who can investigate the crash to find out what really happened and why and to hold the liable parties responsible.
Going it alone or signing an early settlement offer will almost certainly be to your disadvantage. So, after you get appropriate medical care for your injuries, your next move should be to find an attorney to represent your interests.