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Long hours make for high risk of truck driver fatigue

Federal regulations that stipulate how long a trucker may drive exist for good reason. Limiting the number of hours behind the wheel is intended to reduce the risk of an operator suffering from truck driver fatigue. However, this is often a difficult regulation to enforce, sometimes resulting in deadly accidents in Texas that devastate the lives of victims and their families.

Recently, a media source conducted an investigation. It was discovered that some truck drivers have reportedly been forced to disregard the federal rules. The government guidelines stipulate that truckers are to drive no more than 11 hours at a time. If they work beyond 14 hours in one shift, they are required to rest for a period of 10 hours before resuming their duties. Nevertheless, dozens of short-haul drivers say they are often forced to work far beyond those hours and are also directed to falsify their log books in order to get paid.

Over a two-year period, hundreds of port drivers were involved in accidents; more than 20 of the crashes involved fatal injuries. Many of these drivers reported having to be on the road in excess of 20 hours. Before the new contract system, which requires many of these drivers to pay for the leases on their trucks, the equipment that they used was old and faulty. This also leads to dangerous conditions for truckers and others sharing the roadway.

Texas has its own share of port truckers, though the recent investigation focused on California drivers. Whenever a trucker works longer than the federal laws permit, the risk of truck driver fatigue spells potential disaster for others who happen to be on the road. When negligent truckers cause accidents that result in serious injuries or fatalities, personal injury and/or wrongful death claims may be filed in civil court to seek recovery of monetary damages sustained.

Source: USA Today, "Rigged. Forced into debt. Worked past exhaustion. Left with nothing.", Brett Murphy, June 16, 2017

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