Driving while drowsy is a serious problem that can affect any driver of any kind of vehicle. But when that driver is at the wheel of a massive tractor-trailer, the consequences can be even more catastrophic.
Truck Drivers Often Drive Longer Than the Law Allows
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 65% of truckers reported feeling drowsy while driving, and studies show that driver fatigue is the cause of more than a third of fatal trucking accidents. At least 846 people died in drowsy-driving incidents in 2014, according the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
Recognizing the dangers of fatigued truck drivers, federal regulations place limits on how much time truckers may spend behind the wheel during any given stretch of time. However, economic pressures – the need to make deliveries by deadline or the desire to make more money by working longer – can cause both drivers and as well as trucking companies to skirt those rules or even falsify records.
Famously, the Walmart truck driver who caused the 2014 crash that injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed one of his friends had not slept in over 24 hours before the crash occurred, in gross violation of federal regulations.
New Rules Try to Stop Drivers From Skirting Time-On-Duty Rules
Part of the problem with drivers and carriers breaking the mandated time limits comes from the fact that records reflecting duty hours are kept on paper – as they have been since the 1930s – making them easy to falsify or alter.
To crack down on this potentially fatal fraud, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued new rules in December 2015 requiring that all commercial truck drivers to use electronic logs to record their driving hours. According to federal officials, the new electronic logs should save 26 lives a year and prevent more than 500 injury-causing truck accidents.
If you’re driving near a huge tractor-trailer on the highway, you have no idea how many hours the driver has been behind the wheel, how much sleep they’ve had recently, or if there are any other issues that may make that big-rig a bigger threat than it already is. But if you see any of these signs in a truck travelling near you, try to steer clear:
- Drifting between lanes
- Sudden and inexplicable braking
Dallas trucking accident attorney Robert Greening or Greening Law, P.C. knows how devastating a tractor-trailer accident can be and has extensive experience and a track record of success obtaining compensation for those who have been injured or lost a loved one in a big rig accident. Please call us at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.