Los Angeles area truck driver Jose Juan Rodriguez would attempt to stay awake at the end of his 16-hour shifts by splashing his face with ice water he kept in his cab. On several occasions, he realized he was hallucinating–a common effect of sleep deprivation. Some days, he told reporters from USA Today, “you can’t tell if you’re driving or not. You just have to continue working.”
Every day in America, hundreds of sleep-deprived truckers are on the roads. The problem is especially acute around the nation’s ports, where dispatchers often assign drivers to double overtime shifts to deliver containers. Not only are these practices violating federal law, but they cause numerous road accidents, often with fatal consequences.
In such cases, you may need to retain the services of the trucking accident lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. Contact us today at (281) 283-8500 to schedule a consultation.
An Investigation by USA Today Reveals that LA Port Drivers Are Overworked
Reporters from USA Today analyzed four years of timestamps generated each time a truck passes through the Long Beach and Los Angeles port gates. This gave the reporters an indication of how long each truck operated. On average, they found that each day almost 500 trucks were operating in violation of federal law, which requires drivers to take a 10-hour break every 14 hours.
These sleep deprived truckers pose a serious risk. The USA Today report details several fatal accidents caused by truckers working ports in the Los Angeles area. Despite the known dangers of sending overworked drivers onto the roads, trucking companies show no sign of changing their practices. In fact, the companies have been defensive in light of these revelations.
Trucking Companies Deny That They Overwork Their Drivers
USA Today contacted several trucking company executives in the Los Angeles area, and they denied that their drivers are overworked. Some executives challenged the methods of the investigation, stating that two drivers are often assigned to one truck. Thus, the number of hours a truck spends on the road does not necessarily represent the time each driver spends driving.
Kevin Dukesherer, president of Progressive Transportation Services, told USA Today that “your analysis of driver gate data is perhaps a bit misplaced.” Harbor Trucking Association Executive Director Weston LaBar was harsher: “The latest story by USA Today is another example of sensationalized information, with a complete lack for understanding of how the industry works and a willful ignorance of the facts.”
However, many drivers who spoke with USA today said that truck sharing is uncommon because many companies don’t allow it. This means that some trucking companies are actually overworking their drivers. Southern California trucking company Pacific 9, for example, does not allow truck sharing. But its gate data shows that its trucks (and therefore its drivers) exceeded drive time limits more than 8,000 times between 2013 and 2016.
Our Trucking Accident Lawyers Will Hold Trucking Companies Accountable
Data from the Department of Transportation shows that port trucking is one of the most dangerous sectors of the trucking industry. Truck drivers who work in ports are 50 percent more likely to violate federal drive time laws than drivers who work in other sectors. Many trucking companies lease trucks to their drivers who must then work overtime to pay off the lease, eventually earning pennies on the dollar.
Texas is no exception. Texas truck drivers are subject to hectic schedules, and our ports are especially dangerous places to work. When an injury or death occurs because of lapses in safety practices or the greed of a trucking company, the Houston trucking accident lawyers of The Krist Law Firm, P.C. will help get you and your family the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at (281) 283-8500 for a free consultation.