When the driver of an 18-wheeler veered off the road and plowed through a vacant house in Greensboro, NC, in May 2017, local police reported that driver fatigue contributed to the crash.

It’s scary to think that the driver of a truck weighing up to 80,000 pounds could be nodding off while barreling down a highway. Unfortunately, though, truck driver fatigue is a nationwide reality.

Approximately 13 percent of commercial truck drivers in a traffic accident causation study were considered to be fatigued at the time of their crash, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Yet despite that statistic and other evidence of the dangers of truck driver fatigue, a Texas trucking company recently applied to the FMCSA for an exemption to force its truck drivers, who already pull 19-hour shifts, to work through legally required 30-minute rest breaks.

Transco, Inc., which is owned by McLane Company Inc., headquartered in Temple, TX, employs more than 4,000 truck drivers who deliver freight to grocery stores and restaurants. Transco applied in 2016 to the FMCSA for an exemption that would allow its drivers to comply with the 30-minute break requirement by performing on-duty, non-driving tasks.

During their “rest break,” drivers would unload boxes and other freight at roughly nine stops made over a 19-hour shift. “Physically-active offloading is, in fact, better for the health of its drivers than 30 minutes free of work-related duties,” Transco claimed in its application.

The FMCSA denied Transco’s request, announcing its decision in July 2017 after inviting public comment, much of which was opposed to granting the exemption.

“If not for the seriousness of this issue, this application would be laughable,” wrote a representative for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a labor union that represents roughly 600,000 truck drivers in the United States.

Driver Fatigue: A “Leading Factor” in 18-Wheeler Crashes

Transco claimed that requiring its drivers to work through rest breaks could even reduce the number of traffic accidents.

However, driver fatigue crash statistics suggest otherwise:

  • Driver fatigue was a contributing factor in 9,807 accidents (related to all types of vehicles) in Texas, according to 2016 Texas Department of Transportation statistics.
  • Driver fatigue is a leading factor in large truck crashes, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • In one truck driver survey, 21 percent of drivers admitted that they have fallen asleep at the wheel at least once in the past month, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.
  • Research indicates that being awake for 18 hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent, which is legally intoxicated and leaves you at equal risk for a crash, according to the FMCSA.

Why You Need a Truck Accident Attorney

Here is what an experienced, qualified truck accident attorney can do to determine whether driver fatigue caused your 18-wheeler accident:

  • Obtain driver logs, which record hours of duty, drive time and breaks and may contain crucial evidence that fatigue contributed to an 18-wheeler crash that caused injuries or death.
  • Assess whether the driver violated federal or state regulations on rest breaks and sleep amounts.
  • Investigate the driver’s use of medications that can cause drowsiness.
  • Obtain medical records to determine whether conditions such as sleep apnea, diabetes or other health issues caused driver fatigue.
  • Review the truck driver’s driving record and the trucking company’s safety violation and accident history.

Did Driver Fatigue Cause Your 18-Wheeler Crash?

Don’t take the word of trucking companies and their insurance representatives that driver fatigue didn’t play a role in an 18-wheeler crash that injured you or a loved one.

You need an experienced, qualified truck accident attorney on your side to obtain just and fair compensation for injuries, pain and suffering and lost wages.

Injured by a Tired 18-Wheeler Driver?

Contact the Weycer Law Firm to discuss your case for free. Call us at (713) 668-4545.