Last month, five men were hospitalized after an 18-wheeler barreled into the back of their welding truck. The driver was hauling a full load of candy down Interstate 10 when he fell asleep and rear-ended the vehicle. While the Bexar County crash didn’t take any lives, it demonstrates a deadly problem on Texas’ roadways – driving big rigs while drowsy.
In another August crash northwest of San Antonio, a fatigued driver of an 18-wheeler cattle truck was fortunate that livestock was the only victim. That rig veered off the road after the 22-year-old driver’s fatigue overwhelmed him. The crash killed 11 cattle and left a raging bull free-of-roam to charge emergency responders. The bull was shot, but not before three responders sustained injuries that required hospitalization.
Not surprisingly, plenty of attention has focused on fatigued trucking. The National Transportation Safety Board states that trucker fatigue may play a part in 30-40 percent of all trucking crashes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that fatigue was the primary cause of 13 percent of all roadway fatalities involving a passenger vehicle and a semi-truck. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that sleepiness contributes to 100,000 crashes each year.
Federal officials have stepped in with regulations that seek to curb fatal crashes involving fatigue. Unfortunately, regulations aren’t a cure-all. Commercial drivers and their employers aren’t always going to follow the rules, and even if they do, the regulations don’t guarantee that drivers will be alert behind the wheels of their 80,000 pound trucks.
So fatigued truck driving will remain a problem in Texas. As long as truckers have deadlines to meet, or are paid per mile traveled, drowsy driving will continue to threaten other motorists. If you or a loved one is the unfortunate victim of fatigued driving, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney will help investigate, preserve evidence, and hold the responsible parties accountable so you can heal and get on with your life.