The severity of injuries and the rate of fatalities from truck accidents can be surprising to some but should not be trivialized. The risk of serious consequences to Texas motorists when involved in accidents that involve large commercial trucks is very real. The federal government recognizes this and, earlier this year, new regulations targeted at reducing large truck accidents caused by driver fatigue went into effect.
Long hours behind the steering wheel can leave truck drivers exhausted and diminish their ability to make appropriate judgments. This can increase the chance of accidents, putting truckers and other motorists at risk. New regulations, enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, went into effect earlier this summer that are designed to address this issue in an effort to keep more people safe and free from injury.
The picture in Bexar County
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, Bexar County recorded five percent of the state’s overall traffic fatalities in 2011 and almost three percent of all fatalities from truck accidents. Countywide, a total of 151 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents in 2011, 12 of those involving large trucks.
In addition to these numbers, the National Truck Accident Lawyers information reports that almost 98 percent of collisions involving trucks result in fatalities. Their information supports the assertion that truck driver fatigue is a factor in 30 percent of those crashes.
Highlights of the new regulations
The regulations that went into effect this summer reduce the number of hours that truckers can work in a given day and week. Some of the highlights of these rules include:
- A new maximum work week of 70 versus 82 hours is in effect
- A new maximum work day of 14 total hours, 11 of which can be spent actually driving, is in effect
- New rules on breaks requiring that one rest time lasting a minimum of 34 hours and including two time periods form 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. must be taken per work week
- A required 30-minute break time is required for every eight working hours recorded per driver
If authorities find these rules have been violated, fines and penalties can be assessed on truck owners, truck companies and also directly on the truck drivers.
Getting help if an accident does happen
Even with new safety laws in place, accidents can still occur. If you are involved in such a situation, it is always best to seek help from an experienced attorney when dealing with truck accidents. This is your best path to ensuring proper assistance and compensation.