The U.S. Transportation Department published new rules for truck drivers that will allow short-haul drivers to work a longer day and revises rules for longer trips, saying the changes will save the industry $2.8 billion over 10 years. The U.S. trucking industry employs more than seven million people and moves 70% of U.S. domestic freight. Just one day after the new rules were put forth, tired truckers convoyed to the Texas state capitol to call attention to them and the safety concerns they bring about. The revised law will take effect this fall. Safety advocates criticize the move to a longer trucking workday, saying this could lead to more fatigue-related truck accidents.
In 2018, 4,951 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks. The U.S. government estimates large-truck crash deaths increased at least 1% last year. While drivers of 18-wheelers are governed by special rules and regulations for commercial vehicles, as mentioned above, they also have the same legal obligation as other drivers to drive carefully. Allowing a driver to operate a huge vehicle with minimal training and lack of sleep puts all traveling the roadways at high risk of injury or death. The responsible parties must be held accountable.
Fatigued Truck Drivers Put Everyone at Risk
Fatigue can significantly and negatively impact a person’s ability to drive. In fact, the risks associated with fatigued driving are similar to those of drunk driving. Fatigue can impair a person’s vision, reaction time, judgment, memory, and other faculties required to safely operate a big rig like an 18-wheeler. One of the most common causes of commercial truck accidents is driver fatigue.
Truck drivers are required to abide by strict hours of service laws. The current hours of service regulations exist to prevent overly fatigued truck drivers from getting behind the wheel. Unfortunately, many truck drivers already ignore the existing regulations or are still tired even after following them. Fatigued drivers significantly increase the risk of serious, injury-causing motor vehicle accidents. At least one FMCSA study found 13% of commercial motor vehicle drivers involved in truck accidents were fatigued at the time of their crashes.
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Many commercial truckers drive when drowsy and thus incapable of safely operating large trucks of 10,000-plus pounds. They cause crashes that injure innocent drivers and occupants in passenger cars and trucks, as well as pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists.
Rest is important for good driving. Tired drivers are more likely to make critical errors behind the wheel. Our Houston, Texas truck accident lawyers can review a truck driver’s logs, shipping schedules, and other details to determine whether fatigued driving may have played a role in your crash. If a truck company pressured a driver to break the law or if a truck driver broke federal hours of service laws, our truck accident attorneys in Houston, Texas may be able to hold drivers accountable. If you or a loved one has been the victim of an accident involving a tractor-trailer, 18-wheeler, or another industrial vehicle, damages may be recoverable. For a free consultation, contact the Houston trucking accident attorneys at J.D. Silva & Associates.