Truck Driver Fatigue Lawyer in Houston
If a truck driver does not get adequate rest before getting behind the wheel – or if a trucker continues driving past the hours of service limits imposed by federal or state regulations – they put everyone on the road at risk of severe injuries or death. Collisions caused by drowsy truck drivers are entirely preventable accidents. People who’ve been hurt or who’ve lost loved ones have the right to seek compensation from the at-fault party or parties.
Commercial truck drivers are permitted to drive up to 11 hours at a time after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Even when drivers stay within these limitations, they can easily become fatigued. Unfortunately, many drivers are encouraged and sometimes forced to exceed these driving limits by the company they work for in order to meet tight delivery deadlines.
Like driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, fatigued driving impairs reflexes, judgment, and focus. It’s a major hazard to others on the road. If you’ve been injured in a Houston truck accident caused by a truck driver who was drowsy or fatigued, you may be entitled to seek compensation for the injuries and losses you’ve suffered.
For over 25 years, the Houston truck accident lawyers of The Callahan Law Firm have helped injured victims of truck crashes obtain financial recovery and justice from negligent truck drivers and trucking companies. Let us fight to protect your rights and interests. With our firm’s approach of limiting the number of cases we handle at any one time, you can rest assured that your case will receive the attention and resources it deserves.
Contact us today for a free initial case review with a knowledgeable Houston fatigued driver truck accident attorney. We’ll review your legal options and how our firm can help you get maximum compensation for the losses you suffered in the fatigued truck driver accident.
How Dangerous Is It to Drive a Truck While Tired?
Drowsy or fatigued driving is often considered just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Fatigue can impair a driver’s judgment, ability to think clearly, and reaction times, rendering them less capable of responding to traffic conditions and potential hazards on the road. A safe truck driver knows to watch out for and anticipate potential hazards when driving so that the hazard does not become an emergency, and to always have a plan. Fatigue can also lower inhibitions, making a driver more susceptible to speeding or other reckless driving.
Drowsiness and fatigue also serve as a warning sign for a driver that he or she may fall asleep behind the wheel. Even if a driver doesn’t fall asleep in the traditional sense, they may end up experiencing microsleep, or periods of unconsciousness lasting a couple of seconds at a time. During a microsleep event, a vehicle can travel hundreds or even thousands of feet before the driver wakes up.
Drowsy Driving Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 697 deaths resulted from motor vehicle accidents attributed to fatigued or drowsy driving in just one recent year. Data compiled from police reports showed that approximately 91,000 accidents involving drowsy or fatigued drivers occurred nationwide.
Truck Driver Hours of Service Regulations
Commercial drivers must comply with federally mandated hours of service requirements, which include:
- Drivers may be on duty for up to 14 consecutive hours, during which they can drive for up to 11 hours, after which they must take an off-duty period of at least 10 straight hours.
- Drivers may not drive for more than eight consecutive hours without taking a 30-minute break.
- Drivers may not spend more than 60 hours on duty in any seven-consecutive-day period, or 70 hours on duty in any eight-consecutive-day period, which may be reset after at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.
Investigating a Drowsy Driving Truck Accident
It can be challenging to determine whether a truck driver was fatigued following an accident. An experienced truck accident attorney will look at evidence that would indicate the driver was drowsy or fatigued at the time of the accident, such as:
- The driver’s logs, in which a truck driver is required to record the hours they spend on-duty and behind the wheel. These logs can show if a driver has exceeded the hours-of-service limits.
- The truck’s electronic data recorder, which shows when and how long a truck had been operated or driven.
- Eyewitnesses who can testify to a driver’s activities, such as speeding or swerving on the roads.
- Surveillance camera, traffic camera, or dashcam footage, which can show a driver on duty or driving their truck.
- The driver’s cell phone records, which may help indicate the driver’s recent activity.
What Causes Houston Truck Driver Fatigue?
Truck drivers face unique risks of becoming drowsy or fatigued while behind the wheel for several reasons, including:
- Drivers often have shifts lasting up to 14 hours a day, during which they may be driving for up to 11 hours.
- Truck drivers may feel pressure or may be instructed by their employer to exceed the federal hours-of-service regulations to meet delivery schedules, which may leave drivers with inadequate sleep.
- Truck drivers often must sleep in the sleeper berth in their truck or in different hotels or motels every night while on the road, which can result in less restful sleep.
- Sleep apnea, which is a sleep disorder, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed.
- The time demands on a truck driver can also make it difficult to keep a healthy diet or eating schedule, which may induce greater drowsiness or fatigue.
How to Prevent Drowsy Driving
Every motorist can help reduce the risk of getting behind the wheel while feeling drowsy or fatigued. A few simple tips for ensuring that a driver remains alert include:
- Get adequate sleep. Experts recommend that most adults need seven to eight hours of quality sleep a night.
- Avoid driving during the periods when people feel most drowsy, including the pre-dawn and late afternoon hours.
- Check medications for listed side effects that include drowsiness or fatigue.
- Avoid alcohol consumption before driving, as it can increase the effects of drowsiness or fatigue.
- Avoid using stimulant medications to stay awake and alert, since once they wear off, they can leave a person feeling more tired or fatigued than they otherwise normally would be.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Eating at odd times or skipping meals altogether can increase fatigue.
- Take a break. If feeling signs of drowsiness or fatigue, pulling off the road somewhere safe to take a 20-minute nap or stopping for coffee, can increase alertness for short periods. However, only a full night’s sleep will help to restore full alertness and energy.
When to Contact a Lawyer After a Fatigued Driver Truck Accident
You should contact a truck accident attorney as soon as possible after a truck accident. In many cases, it may not initially be evident that a truck driver was fatigued at the time of the crash. However, evidence such as the driver logs and surveillance footage can later reveal that a driver had been overworked and was likely fatigued at the time of the accident.
This evidence may soon be deleted or otherwise lost due to standard corporate record-retention policies. And unfortunately, some trucking companies looking to avoid liability for an accident may alter or destroy records that can show the driver had exceeded the hours-of-service limitations at the time of an accident.
An experienced truck accident lawyer will know what to do to preserve critical evidence, including sending proper preservation of evidence letters, coordinating prompt inspection of the truck and its electronic data recording devices, and obtaining a temporary restraining order from a court to ensure evidence is not lost or destroyed.
Contact Our Houston Fatigued Truck Driver Accident Lawyers Today
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident that may have been caused by a drowsy or fatigued truck driver, contact the experienced truck crash lawyers at The Callahan Law Firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Learn more about your legal rights and options for holding negligent truck drivers and trucking companies accountable.