A recent report published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that 328,000 police-reported crashes each year – resulting in 109,000 injuries and 6,400 fatalities – involve a fatigued driver. In addition, a study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute studied the behavior of drivers just prior to a crash. Creating little or limited interference with the subjects, the researchers found several signs of fatigue to include facial changes, eyelid closing, and heads bobbing.
Fatigued Truck Drivers
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) notes that nearly 4,000 people die each year in large truck crashes annually, and the leading cause of these accidents is driver fatigue. To be sure, professional truck drivers are required to submit to strenuous testing. Accordingly, these professional drivers are often very skilled. That being said, no level of driver skill can overcome fatigue and exhaustion when someone is behind the wheel. In fact, to combat driver fatigue, the law requires professional truck drivers and other commercial vehicle drivers to stay within certain hours of service limits, imposed by the federal government.
These driving limits include:
- A maximum of 14 driving hours and/or working after starting a shift;
- A maximum of 60 driving hours in any seven-day period or 70 hours in eight days; and
- A maximum of 11 driving hours, following 10 consecutive hours off-duty rest.
While the danger of truck drivers falling asleep behind the wheel as a result of driving too many hours consecutively, there is another major concern regarding fatigue even when the driver does not fall asleep. Other symptoms of fatigue that increase the risk of accidents include slowed reaction times and decreased alertness. The time limitations imposed by the law are often not followed due to varying pressures such as drivers being paid based on the number of miles driven and an employer’s urge to speed or exceed hours to meet or beat delivery deadlines.
Beyond the behind-the-wheel hour limitation, truck drivers must maintain a logbook of his or her trips. It is not uncommon for these logbooks to be falsified in order to comply with the federal regulation. This falsification may be proven by a skilled truck accident attorney by seeking and obtaining in discovery phone and satellite records, gas receipts and even the truck driver’s black box, among other evidence.
Contact a Skilled Texas Driver Fatigue Attorney
If you or someone you know has been injured in a truck accident as a result of driver fatigue – or any other type of negligence – retaining an experienced and aggressive San Antonio driver fatigue attorney is important no matter the reasons or factors behind the incident. The attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm represent clients from across the state of Texas aggressively, knowing what to look for and which experts to consult in order to fight.