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Fatigue linked to Deadly Truck Accidents

November 2, 2016

Technological advances have led to a boom in oil production in Texas and across the country. Oil production hit a 44-year high in April of 2016 and there are signs that production will continue to be high in the coming years, CNN reports.

One unexpected consequence of the country’s oil boom is that our roads are more dangerous. Traffic accidents are the largest cause of fatalities in the oil and gas industry, according to The New York Times. Over 300 oil and gas workers were killed in wrecks during the past decade, and many of these crashes are attributable to fatigue. These accidents also impact individuals who are not connected to the energy industry because a fatigued driver can easily crash into other vehicles.

Oil companies have an exemption from general trucking safety rules that limit how many hours a truck driver can work. The purpose of these rules is to prevent fatigued drivers from falling asleep at the wheel. The Times reports that some oil and gas field workers have shifts that can stretch past 20 hours, which is one of the reasons why oil fatigue truckers may be driving while drowsy.

Oil and gas trucks are going to become ubiquitous on American roads if current production trends hold. Federal officials estimate that there will be 200,000 additional oil and gas wells nationwide in the coming decade. The vast majority of these wells use a drilling technique called “hydraulic fracturing,” which requires from 500 to 1,500 truck trips for every well.

If you or a loved one are involved in a Texas oil and gas truck accident, call the Begum Law Group and speak to the Law Giant about your options. Free consults available: 866-523-4167.

Know the Legal Terrain

Individuals who are injured in an accident involving an oil field truck may have several legal options to receive compensation from their injuries. An experienced personal injury attorney can review the circumstances of a particular accident and identify possible liable parties. In addition to the negligent truck driver who causes an accident, an oil company may also be held liable for the actions of its employee.

How Exhaustion Plays a Role in Texas Commercial Truck Crashes

Getting behind the wheel when you feel tired is usually a big mistake. Exhaustion can impact your reaction time, as well as your ability to focus on the task at hand. When you are tired, your risk for a crash increase. That fact makes it particularly concerning that so many truck drivers choose to drive longer than they should. Even with the migration to electronic logging devices to track trucker activity, many commercial drivers and trucking companies are still trying to manipulate and game the system.

Exhausted truck drivers are a common risk factor, and they put everyone at risk. Large commercial trucks can cause catastrophic damages to property and life-altering or life-ending injuries to occupants in vehicles. They are so much bigger and heavier than passenger vehicles that people in the smaller vehicle almost always end up suffering injuries, while the commercial driver stays safe. Preventing these collisions is critical to the safety of everyone on the road.

Commercial Truck Crashes in Texas

Texas roads are some of the most-traveled by commercial trucks. Vehicles bring supplies and products from Mexico and Central America, as well as sending merchandise down into other countries. It is also a hub for drivers traveling from the Southwest toward the east. All of that traffic increases risk. In Bexar county in 2016, the most recent year with data from the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 26 fatalities resulting from commercial vehicle crashes. Another 49 people suffered incapacitating injuries.

It is hard to know exactly how many of these crashes relate to exhausted driving. However, it is likely that at least some of them involve driver fatigue. Many times, law enforcement must rely on driver self-reporting to determine exhaustion. It is easy to see how that is not the best system for tracking tired drivers.

Truck Driver Restrictions

In order to reduce the risk of exhausted truck drivers causing fatal crashes, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has created Hours of Service rules. These rules limit how long a driver can operate a vehicle and how long a company can require a driver to operate a vehicle. The rules are in place to prevent systemic abuses, like forcing drivers to stay behind the wheel for dangerously long periods of time.

The Hours of Service rules limit truck drivers to no more than 14 hours of work after they first start a shift. After those 14 hours, the driver must have at least eight hours off before resuming work. There is also a limit to how many hours in a week a commercial driver can work. A trucker can drive no more than 60 hours in a seven-day period or 70 hours in an eight-day period.

Learn more about your rights and options about dealing with a Texas truck accident caused by a fatigued driver. Call 866-523-4167 and speak with The Law Giant at Begum Law Group in a free, no0risk consultation.

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