Companies hold truckers to tight deadlines, regardless of external factors, such as weather, vehicle congestion, and road conditions. As a result, truck drivers often overwork themselves to meet tight deadlines and become fatigued. This can impair their decision-making ability and increase the chances of falling asleep behind the wheel.
Fatigued driving is one of the most common causes of truck accidents in Texas, but it is not easy to prove. If you were in a truck accident, the best thing you can do is contact the Houston truck accident attorneys at Sutliff & Stout. They can investigate the incident and work to prove that it resulted from driver fatigue.
What Is Driver Fatigue?
Also known as drowsy driving, driver fatigue is when the person behind the wheel falls asleep or nods off for a few seconds at a time. With pressure from their company, truck drivers are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel than others are. Research shows that sleep deprivation leads to mental impairment similar to drunkenness. 24 hours of sleep deprivation is equivalent to a 0.10% blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits the number of hours truckers can drive without a break. Regulations state that truck drivers are allowed to travel up to 12 hours following an eight-hour break. They cannot go over 70 hours in seven days or 80 hours in eight days. Drivers can restart a 70 or 80-hour period after taking at least 34 hours off. Drivers must also take a 30-minute break at least every eight hours.
Unfortunately, companies often pressure their drivers to complete their routes on time, regardless of how many hours they drive. As a result, many drivers work without proper rest, fearing they will lose their jobs if they do not meet deadlines on time. Those who violate FMCSA rules and regulations may be liable for any accidents and injuries they cause.
Proving that the truck driver was driving tired is crucial to obtaining financial compensation for your accident. There are many pieces of evidence an attorney may use to prove the other driver was liable for the accident, including:
- Police report: Police officers learn the signs of sleep deprivation and document them in the police report. Bloodshot eyes, apparent exhaustion, or a statement from the driver admitting they were tired can help your case. If your case goes to trial, an attorney can call officers to testify.
- Time of day: When the accident occurred may be another sign that the driver was fatigued. Drivers who are on the road between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. have often been traveling throughout the night and might be driving fatigued.
- Lack of accident avoidance: An obvious sign that the driver is tired is if they did not attempt to avoid an accident. For example, drivers often try to gain control over their vehicle or veer away from potential hazards to prevent an accident.
- Logbooks: Most commercial vehicles now come with Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) to monitor the amount of time truckers drive. If the truck does not have an ELD, drivers must maintain a handwritten log. If logged hours go beyond the FMCSA regulations, an attorney might be able to prove fatigued.
Analyzing a truck’s GPS or toll receipts may also give lawyers a timeline on how long they have been driving. Most trucks also have black boxes that store data that attorneys can review to show driver fatigue and other poor driving habits.
The aftermath of a truck accident will be overwhelming. Medical bills and property damage costs will quickly increase, and you might be out of work without pay. When someone else is negligent, it is not fair for you to cover the costs of accident-related expenses. If this happens, contact the truck accident attorneys at Sutliff & Stout. We will work diligently to hold the responsible party accountable. Call (713) 987-7111 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.