Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) February 24, 2015 – Despite the number of safety programs aimed at truck drivers, many still drive when short on sleep. This is a significant issue, as a drowsy driver can kill.
In 2012, there were 10.8 million trucks crisscrossing the nation. Each year that statistic grows, says the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) Federal Highway Administration statistics show people drove 84.7 billion miles on California highways in 2011. Texas ranked second on the U.S. DOT list with drivers logging over 55.7 billion miles. Florida came in third at 34.7 billion, and Ohio ranked fourth at 31.4 billion.
“The reality of driving a truck in the U.S. today is that time is of the essence if a driver wants to be paid well,” says Bobby Lee, an experienced 18-wheeler injury attorney in Austin. “The more a trucker pushes the limits of the allowable number of hours driving behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler, the more accidents result. This is common knowledge and the accident statistics back that up.” The billions of miles driven every year result in an increasing people losing their lives in accidents involving a big rig.
Consider the story of the trucker who had been driving almost 48 hours straight when he came upon a long line of cars stopped for construction. He was so tired that the signs leading up to the flagger man did not register. He kept barreling along until he rear-ended the last car in the line of ten. That caused a chain reaction of one vehicle hitting another on up the line. It was one of the most gruesome scenes first responders had ever seen.
Another story involves a trucker caught on dash cam nodding off just prior to slamming into the backend of a car stopped by the scene of a traffic accident. The woman in the car died at the scene. “Sleep-related accidents involving trucks are claiming thousands of lives every year,” says Lee.
Large truck accidents claimed the lives of 3,802 people nationwide in 2012. In 2009, only 3,211 people died. The figures, provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show an increase in deaths due to accidents involving heavy trucks.
In some instances the NHTSA cited the reasons for the accidents, but many truckers would never admit to falling asleep behind the wheel of their vehicles and thus the statistics do not specifically address the rise in the number of accidents caused by driving while fatigued. However, a DOT study done in 2006, estimates that drowsy drivers caused 13 percent of all big rig collisions.
For those who have been involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, connect with a seasoned trucking attorney to find out what your rights are, how to claim compensation and what to expect when a case goes to settlement or to trial.
Lee, Gober & Reyna
11940 Jollyville Road #220-S
Austin, Texas 78759