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Legal Blog

When Fatal Truck Accidents Are Caused By Truckers’ Poor Health

The Houston truck accident attorneys at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. are experienced in handling all kinds of personal injury cases. If you have been injured in a truck accident, or if a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, call them today at (281) 283-8500 to find out how they can help you deal with the legal aspects of your claim while you focus on healing.

Fatal Truck Accidents Caused by Truckers’ Poor Health

Commercial truck accidents resulted in over 3,000 deaths in 2014, and it is estimated that 12 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States are caused by truck accidents. Not only is truck-driving considered one of the most dangerous occupations in the nation, but commercial truck drivers have some of the highest numbers of injuries and illnesses compared to other occupations, which can negatively impact their abilities to safely operate their vehicles.

Truck drivers are susceptible to health problems due to demanding schedules, prolonged periods of physical inactivity, a lack of healthy food options, long driving hours, and high levels of work-related stress. Research has shown that truck drivers are at an increased risk for high blood pressure, fatigue, high cholesterol, heart problems, diabetes, obesity, and sleep apnea as compared to other professions. A recent study revealed that fatigue and high blood pressure were highly associated with the risk of truck accidents. Additionally, a report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA) in 2007 found that 87 percent of trucking accidents involved driver error, and 12 percent of those accidents were due to drivers falling asleep at the wheel, having a heart attack, or other health-related problems.

FMSCA Regulations

The FMSCA now requires commercial truck drivers to get a physical exam every 24 months in order to obtain a medical certificate and maintain their CDLs. As of July 1, 2013, the FMSCA implemented new hours of service rules for commercial truck drivers. These rules set the maximum number of hours that commercial truck drivers can drive without rest and are intended to help prevent accidents due to driver fatigue.

According to the regulations, property-carrying truck drivers may not drive more than 11 hours at a time after 10 consecutive off-duty hours. They may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, and off-duty time may not extend beyond this 14-hour limit. A truck driver may not drive more than 60 hours in a seven-day period, or more than 70 hours in an eight-day period.

There is also a 34-hour restart rule, which means that a driver must have at least 34 consecutive hours of rest before the next 60- or 70-hour period can be started. They are also required to take a 30-minute break during the first 8 hours of a shift. Federal regulations require truck drivers to keep logs of their activities to ensure that they are complying with hours of service rules. In the past, there has been an issue with truckers falsifying their log books, but a new rule from the Department of Transportation requiring truck drivers to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) will make entering false entries more difficult to accomplish.

Failing to comply with hours of service regulations or other state and federal laws can have devastating consequences. Commercial truck drivers, just like any other drivers, must operate their vehicles in a safe manner. In order to reduce the risk of a serious accident, commercial truck drivers need to get regular rest, take proper care of themselves, and address any outstanding health problems that can impair their abilities to remain alert at all times.

Find Experienced Representation for Your Trucking Accident Claim

At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our Houston personal injury attorneys have extensive experience handling wrongful death claims arising from commercial trucking accidents. We perform a thorough factual investigation of the accident and a comprehensive legal analysis of all possible claims. Our decades of experience with commercial trucking accident lawsuits has given us the skills necessary to build the strongest possible case. We have a successful track record of obtaining the maximum possible compensation for our clients–including one of the largest commercial trucking verdicts in Texas in 2014 with an award of more than $6,000,000.

We’ll make sure that you understand all of your options, and we will be by your side every step of the way so that you can make the decisions necessary to protect and care for your family. Call the Houston truck accident attorneys with The Krist Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation today at (281) 283-8500.