Every year, negligent and dangerous truck drivers cause fatal traffic accidents throughout the US. According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 4,862 fatal crashes and 112,000 injury crashes involved large trucks in 2018 alone. Truck driver fatigue is one of the most frequently cited issues connected to catastrophic and fatal truck accidents in Texas.

Fatigue can occur when a truck driver breaches his or her hours-of-service regulations, drives alone for long hours at a time, suffers from sleep apnea, or otherwise fails to get enough sleep before a shift. If you were injured in an accident involving a suspected drowsy truck driver, discuss liability for your losses with a truck accident attorney in San Antonio.

Warning Signs of Driver Fatigue

Preventing a drowsy driving truck accident is always better than trying to pick up the pieces after a crash has already occurred. As a driver outside of the truck, your ability to prevent a truck accident is limited. You can, however, stay vigilant to your surroundings. Keep an eye out for some of the most common signs of truck driver fatigue, especially between dusk and dawn. This is when most drowsy driving accidents occur. If you notice warning signs of driver fatigue, keep a safe distance and report the driver to the authorities.

  • Excessive speeding
  • Drifting in and out of a lane
  • Making unsafe lane changes
  • Hitting rumble strips
  • Abruptly speeding up or slowing down
  • Slamming on the brakes
  • Tailgating other drivers
  • Running red lights or stop signs

These are warning signs to look out for when sharing the road with commercial truck drivers who may be falling asleep behind the wheel. Physical signs from the driver him or herself can also mean the trucker is too tired to safely operate the big rig. Signs of driver drowsiness include reduced reaction times, trouble focusing, heavy eyes, frequent blinking or yawning, nodding off, daydreaming, losing patience, and trouble controlling the vehicle. If a truck driver notices the warning signs of fatigue yet fails to pull over and rest, he or she could be directly responsible for a related truck accident.

Dangers of a Drowsy Driver

Drowsiness makes it extremely difficult to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Drowsiness can interfere with most essential functions needed to operate a big rig, including vision, reflexes, muscle strength, reaction times, judgment and cognitive abilities. It is comparable to drunk driving in how it affects a driver. In 2017 alone, drowsy driving took an estimated 795 lives.

If a truck driver is drowsy, exhausted or fatigued, this could interfere with his or her ability to pay attention to the road and notice changing roadway situations. Ultimately, a drowsy truck driver can cause a catastrophic car accident, such as a high-speed rear-end collision.

Liability in a Drowsy Driving Truck Accident

Pinpointing truck driver fatigue as the cause of a truck accident can be difficult, especially if the at-fault truck driver does not survive the collision. The elements of a drowsy driving crash can mimic those of many other types of accidents, including distracted driving. If an investigation confirms that the truck driver was drowsy or fell asleep behind the wheel, and this caused the truck accident, liability could go to a few different parties.

Most commercial truck accidents come down to the liability of the trucking company in Texas. Trucking companies are vicariously responsible for the misconduct and mistakes of its truck drivers and employees, in most situations. A trucking company could also be liable if it intentionally encouraged its drivers to ignore hours-of-service regulations to make faster drops. The truck driver could be individually liable, on the other hand, if the rules of vicarious liability do not apply.

You may need a truck accident lawyer to help you determine liability for a truck accident involving alleged fatigue. Contact us today for a free consultation.