Drivers of smaller vehicles can find it intimidating when a semi-truck looms in the adjacent lane on one of Texas’s highways. A single small error can result in a calamitous truck accident.
Compared with a typical auto accident involving only passenger cars, the damage to a car can be much more severe in a collision with a large semi-truck, due to the discrepancy in weight.
Records kept by the NHTSA indicate that, in one year, 287,000 large trucks were involved in an accident on America’s roads.
Anyone who has suffered a loss in a large truck accident ought to receive the best care for injuries and adequate repayment for lost wages. If a family member has died, an award for wrongful death should rightfully be ordered for survivors. It will take a strong advocate to navigate the route to receive damages after a truck accident.
Fatigue Is A Significant Reason For Truck Crashes
NHTSA research into all kinds of traffic accidents in the United States has included extensive analysis of large truck accidents. Some large truck accidents are attributable to driver error.
Truck drivers run into trouble on unfamiliar routes, when distracted, and when tired due to long hours on the road. These factors were frequently found in the analysis of truck accidents.
Drivers may try to push themselves to deliver a load on time, forgoing necessary rest. Federal regulations that govern commercial trucking set limits on how long a driver can work without taking a rest break.
New hours-of-service rules instituted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration require semi-truck drivers to take a rest break at least every eight hours. Rest breaks must last at least 30 minutes.
Additional rules limit how many hours a driver can put in during a one-week period, and specify that drivers must rest at some time between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
A Dangerous Sleep Disorder
Many truck drivers have a dangerous sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. According to the FMCSA, as much as 28 percent of all commercial drivers may have this condition.
People with sleep apnea have up to 400 brief episodes of breath-holding during a typical eight hours of sleep. They may stop breathing for 10 seconds or longer in each episode.
A danger of sleep apnea is that a driver who has this condition can be excessively sleepy during the day, even falling asleep while driving. In one study, drivers who had untreated sleep apnea performed more poorly on performance tasks than other study participants who were alert but had an elevated blood alcohol level.
It is not comforting to know that more than a quarter of the semi-trucks a Texas driver sees on the road could be operated by a driver who has sleep apnea. Untreated sleep apnea puts a truck driver at heightened risk for a crash.
When truck crashes happen, owners can be held liable for failing to screen their drivers for health issues like sleep apnea and for allowing their drivers to forgo federally mandated rest periods.