The National Highway Traffic Administration estimates that truck driver fatigue is a factor in over 56,000 accidents each year, causing at least 40,000 injuries and 1,500 fatalities. Many of these accidents involve professional drivers operating heavy commercial vehicles. In fact, drowsy driving is the leading cause of heavy truck collisions, responsible for over a third of these accidents. Worst of all, truck accidents caused by driver fatigue are entirely preventable.
If you or a loved one were seriously hurt or killed in a truck accident where you believe driver fatigue may have been a factor, the law empowers you to seek full and fair compensation for your losses by filing a truck accident lawsuit. You may be entitled to damages for medical bills, lost wages from time missed at work, and more. Filing a lawsuit also makes a statement to trucking companies and regulators that they will be held accountable when they negligently fail to put proper safety measures in place.
Contact the Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm for a free consultation to explore your legal rights at no upfront cost.
Driving While Drowsy Is Dangerous
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers who had five or six hours of sleep were twice as likely to be involved in a crash as a person with seven or more hours of sleep. Drivers who had four or fewer hours of rest had a crash rate 11x that of a well-rested driver – the same crash rate as a drunk driver with a BAC of .12 or .15%.
Driving while drowsy slows down reaction times, decreases situational awareness, diminishes focus, and impairs judgment.
Tips to Prevent Falling Asleep While Driving
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers these tips for preventing falling asleep while driving:
- Avoid drinking and driving, which is not only illegal but increases drowsiness.
- Avoid driving long distances alone. Taking turns with a companion makes it easier to stay awake.
- Sleep for at least eight hours before driving.
- If you feel your alertness diminishing, stop and take a 15-20 minute nap.
- Avoid beginning trips late at night. Limit driving between midnight and 6 am.
- Hold your head with an upright posture, avoiding slouching.
- Take a break every two hours, stopping in a well-populated space to walk around and stretch.
- Have two cups of a caffeinated beverage like coffee or cola.
Unfortunately, all too often, drivers do not follow these tips, and accidents occur – often with tragic effects.
How a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help After a Fatigue-Related Crash
Trucking firms hire the top defense attorneys and stop at nothing to exonerate their reputations when facing truck driver fatigue allegations. Trucking companies have been known to hide and destroy the truck’s GPS, speed, and black-box recorder data. They’ve been known to falsify driver logbooks and vehicle maintenance records to avoid responsibility for the death of motorists on the road.
Hiring a Dallas personal injury lawyer right away gives you the best chance of collecting evidence that establishes clear and convincing liability – which gives you the upper hand in settlement negotiations so that you can recover maximum damages. At Reyes Browne Reilley, we leave no stone unturned in our investigation of the accident. Further, we work with a number of experts, such as crash reconstructionists, to build substantial grounds for proving fault.
Federal Law Attempted to Prevent Truck Accidents Caused by Driver Fatigue
Commercial drivers travel long distances, often at night, and are especially at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. Knowing this, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates the number of hours a truck driver can work consecutively. The 2013 hours of service regulations stated:
- Drivers must take a 30-minute break within the first eight hours of a shift.
- A trucker’s work week cannot exceed 70 hours.
- Once a driver reaches the 70-hour limit, a 34 consecutive hour break must be taken.
- Drivers working 70 hours a week must take at least two 1-5 am shifts off.
Drivers are required to log every 15 minutes of time spent on or off-duty in electronic logbooks. This information – which your Dallas truck accident attorney will fight to access – can become critical evidence if the driver is involved in an accident or cited for a traffic violation.
Hours of Service RegulationsRolled Back in 2020
The government rolled back these regulations on June 1, 2020 after intense lobbying from the powerful American Trucking Associations. The new rules stipulate:
- Drivers can take 14-hour shifts if they are on a “short haul” of 150 air-miles or less.
- The allowed driving window can be expanded by two hours in adverse driving conditions.
- After eight cumulative hours of driving time (not on-duty time), a 30-minute break must be taken.
- Drivers can resume another 7/8-day shift after the 34-hour break, without night driving limitations.
- Drivers can split their 10-hour sleeper berth time into two sections of any length of at least two hours.
Get a Free Consultation with a Dallas Truck Driver Fatigue Accident Lawyerat Reyes Browne Reilley
It costs nothing to speak with a Dallas truck accident lawyer after a collision with a truck driver you suspect may have been fatigued. Reyes Browne Reilly attorneys have a combined experience of more than 100 years successfully handling personal injury lawsuits, and we have won 98% of the cases we take on. We offer free consultations and contingency-based representation. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more. Contact us to explore your legal options.