Reduction in trucker fatigue sought with new laws

The range of potential consequences in a car crash is wide. Texas drivers can experience anything from minor property damage as in the standard "fender-bender" to serious personal injury or even death from an action that often seems to last only a moment. Some factors can often increase the severity of a wreck such as speed, the number vehicles involved and the size or type of the vehicles involved.

The sheer size of large commercial trucks can make a collision with them more severe than with a lighter vehicle depending upon the circumstances. Add to this the reality that many truck drivers spend extremely long hours and days behind the wheel and are susceptible to fatigue, another factor that can contribute to an accident.

Drivers in Travis County may now be able to feel more protected against truck accidents thanks to new legislation recently enacted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association.

Safety takes priority

Effective July 1, 2013, the number of hours that a truck driver is allowed to work as well as the frequency and duration of rests are revised. The goal of the new laws is to reduce truck driver fatigue which, in turn, is intended to reduce the number of large truck accidents and resulting injuries and fatalities. Highlights include:

  • •· Previously, truckers were allowed to work up to 82 hours in one work week. Now the maximum is 70 with no more than 14 hours being worked in one day and no more than 11 of those being behind the wheel.
  • •· Every trucker must log a break lasting at least 34 hours and spanning two unique 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. time periods during the work week. For every eight hours a trucker works, whether driving or in some other capacity, a minimum 30 minute break is required.
  • •· Fines can be assessed on truck owners, truck drivers and trucking companies if any of these laws are found to be violated.

Predictions from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimate an annual prevention of 19 fatalities, 560 personal injuries and 1,400 vehicular accidents.

The need is real

Data for 2011 from the NHTSA ranks Travis County as the sixth deadliest county in Texas for motor vehicle fatalities with a total of 84 deaths that year. Of those deaths, nine-nearly 11 percent-resulted from truck accidents. In Travis County, there were 427 large truck crashes in 2011.

The National Truck Accident Lawyers' data indicates that fatalities result from approximately 98 percent of truck accidents. In addition, information reports that 30 percent of such accidents are affected by trucker fatigue.

Travis County motorists' rights

If you or a loved one is involved in a truck accident, it is important that you obtain proper legal advice. It can be challenging to obtain the compensation you are due in full when working on your own against a large trucking company and having a professional on your side can make the difference between being protected and not.