Safety Rules Are Written to Prevent Truck Wrecks
Who is the liar? Truck drivers, who wish to remain anonymous, have said that some trucking companies are flagrant violators of safety rules and pressure truckers to drive more hours than the safety regulations permit. Trucking companies say that is not so. Who is lying?
We will never have safer highways and lower truck accident rates in Texas until Texas legislators write laws that severely punish violators of safety rules, according to the Riley Law Firm, a leading truck accident law firm in Houston, Texas. And by punishing violators I mean in appropriate cases put them in prison for years. Their time in prison will be well deserved and it will deter many other owners, executives, and supervisors with trucking companies from violating safety laws and regulations.
Truck Driver Fails to Avoid a Collision
The video below is significant because the truck driver had sufficient time to avoid the accident. What is surprising is that he took NO evasive action. Why? Was he distracted or fatigued? Fortunately, the stalled pickup truck was unoccupied after striking a deer and the mother and her daughter escaped by running to some safety barriers.
Mr. Riley, founder of Riley Law Firm, is specifically focused on truck driver fatigue because it is on the verge of becoming an epidemic. The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), has estimated that 40% of all trucking accidents are the result of driver fatigue. Truck drivers work long hours and often face deadlines so they and their supervisors are frequently tempted to drive more hours than outlined in safety regulations.
Rigging The System of Hours Reported By Truck Drivers
The more hours drivers are on the road, the more money the trucking company and drivers make. Trucks that are idle while drivers are taking much needed rest are earning nothing for the trucking company or the drivers. Thus, there is plenty of incentive for trucking companies and truck drivers to hide the number of hours the drivers have been continually on the road. But that puts our families at severe risk. But hey, profit over lives, right?
Recently an Atlanta news organization interviewed three truck drivers about the number of hours they spend on the road. All three asked to remain anonymous because they want to continue working as truck drivers. All the drivers shared text messages and driving logs they claimed proved the trucking company was changing information in the electronic logs of their driving times.
All three spoke about their former trucking company employer. One driver admitted he once drove 30 hours straight without sleep. He also said he sometimes drove on 4 hours of sleep.
Another truck driver said the trucking company would simply erase previous entries in the driving log and give the truck driver a “fresh” 11 hours to drive immediately. This driver had screenshots just three minutes apart showing the change in the electronic driving logs.
One of drivers shared paycheck information that stated the truck driver had driven 6000 miles in a week. Using a little math, the news organization calculated that the driver would have driven 1400 miles per day at a speed of 134 miles per hour to stay within the safety rules of hours driven per week.
The news organization attempted to contact the trucking company all addresses were post office boxes or shared rental spaces. The trucking company did not reply to an interview request. The news organization asked the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) about the drivers’ claims. The USDOT said they investigated and found NO wrongdoing.
When the news organization finally contacted an employee of the trucking company he said all the truck drivers were disgruntled employees and their accusation were false. In other words, the trucking company said the drivers are liars.
All the drivers said they did not know who changes the electronic driving logs or how it is done. All three of the drivers eventually quit driving for this company because they felt the risk of having a crash and getting their license suspended was too great.
Fatigued truck drivers are a dangerous hazard to everyone on Texas roads. The National Sleep Foundation has studied fatigued drivers and found that a driver with 24 hours of sleep deprivation has a level of impairment equal to a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.10%. In Texas a BAC of 0.08% or above is defined as legal intoxication. However, Texas law states that a driver is breaking the law as soon as drugs or alcohol affects their operation of a truck, car, boat, or plane.
Federal Safety Rules to Limit Truck Driver Fatigue
Prior to the implementation of safety rules that limited the number of hours a truck driver could drive it was an unregulated area of trucking. And predictably it was abused by trucking companies and truck drivers on the road for far too many hours at a time.
Currently truck drivers have a limit of 70 hours per week of driving time. The maximum daily driving time is 10 hours with a hard to define “on-the-job” limit of 14 hours per day. The goal is to improve road safety by eliminating an obvious cause of driver fatigue.
Proponents of these hourly safety rules claim that they have resulted in a decrease of 1400 truck accidents per year.
Tim Riley has 30+ years as a personal injury attorney and has represented numerous victims in truck accident lawsuits. When the Riley Law Firm receives a phone call from a truck accident victim the safety rules designed to prevent such accidents have failed. There will always be reckless, negligent, and apathetic people in the trucking industry. They should be forced to compensate those who have been injured or killed due to their irresponsible behavior. Sometimes they are sent to prison. But a personal injury lawsuit will force the responsible parties to face a jury and pay for the medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering of the victims. That is the job of the Riley Law Firm, to help the victims and families repair their lives and move forward.