Driving while you are tired or sleepy is more dangerous than you think. If you are not alert behind the wheel or your reaction times are delayed, you may wind up causing an accident. The risks of fatigue and exhaustion can be easy to avoid for normal commuters, but these are conditions that commercial drivers commonly deal with.
The team at our Longview, TX law firm would like to consider the legal issues surrounding truck accidents caused by driver fatigue. We’ll note who is liable in these cases and what your legal options may involve.
Statistics on Driver Fatigue
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver fatigue contributed to 72,000 crashes in 2013, including 44,000 injuries and 800 deaths.
These numbers are startling, and they’re so high since people often drive when they are tired. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that in the last 30 days, an average of 1 in 25 people over the age of 18 has fallen asleep behind the wheel.
Driver Fatigue Caused the 2014 Tracy Morgan Crash
You may remember a magic auto accident involving actor/comedian Tracy Morgan. Late one night in June 2014, a vehicle containing Morgan and his friends was struck by a Walmart tractor-trailer while on the New Jersey Turnpike. Morgan was seriously injured and in a coma for two weeks. The crash wound up claiming the life of Morgan’s friend and fellow comedian James McNair.
The driver of the Walmart truck had not slept for more than 24 hours prior to the crash, resulting in severe fatigue and the ensuring collision. Walmart settled with Morgan for an undisclosed amount.
Laws in Place to Limit the Risk of Driver Fatigue
Driving for more than 24 hours violates hours of service regulations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These laws state that a truck driver can only drive for 11 hours total in a 14-hour consecutive driving window. Further, during this 11 hours of driving, the driver must take a mandatory 30-minute break. Additional laws are in place to limit weekly driving hours, making sure truckers are well rested before they get back on the road.
As the 2014 crash with Tracy Morgan and countless other accidents like it reveal, truck drivers often ignore these safety laws given the demands of their job. They should not be putting other motorists at risk.
Who Is Legally Liable in Driver Fatigue Collisions
Determining legal liability in truck accidents of this kind can be challenging. Usually the liability rests with the truck driver, the trucking company, or a combination of the two. For instance, a trucking company may knowingly overwork one of their drivers, putting them in a dangerous situation on the road with little or no sleep. Additionally, drivers may falsify their logged hours to take more jobs, which results in less sleep and a higher risk of crashes.
If you or a loved one was involved in an accident with a truck driver who was asleep at the wheel or otherwise distracted or fatigued, our law firm can help.
Lear More About Your Legal Rights
For more information about driver fatigue crashes and how our legal team can help you, be sure to contact an experienced injury accident lawyer. We look forward to discussing these matters with you in greater detail.