The holidays are a busy time for all of us, and that includes truck drivers, too. You probably plan to purchase gifts for your friends and family, but whether you shop online or at the mall, all that merchandise has to come from somewhere. It’s not a fleet of reindeer that delivers the goods—it’s a gigantic fleet of over-the-road trucks. The holidays always bring more truck traffic, and that means more truck accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discovered December is the most dangerous month for drivers. When they studied traffic-related fatalities during the Christmas season, they determined an average of 45 people died each day… compared to an average of 36 fatalities per day the rest of the year.
Even if you find yourself in a rush during the holidays, stay alert, especially when driving alongside trucks. These truck drivers are often on tighter deadlines during the holiday season. When they make poor decisions to try to meet these deadlines, such as speeding or driving while fatigued, they can cause serious truck crashes.
Truck drivers are subject to more rules and regulations than the average motorist. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates truck drivers by imposing important safety rules regarding the following:
- Hours of service (limited to 60 hours per week)
- Truck maintenance schedules
- Rules of the road
- Driver conduct
- Driver impairment
- Drug testing
- Transportation of hazardous material
- Cargo loading protocol
Failure to comply with the FMCSA’s regulations means harsh fines and other penalties. However, the holidays place extra time constraints on everyone, including truckers. Employers may be tempted to push truckers to deliver more and more cargo. Long hours of driving can lead to exhaustion, a dangerous form of impaired driving. Accidents can follow, and lives can be lost.
If you or someone you care about was injured in a truck accident, you need an experienced Houston truck accident lawyer. The legal team at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law is here for you. Contact us now to get the help you deserve.
Truckers and Exhaustion
Big rigs got their name for a reason: they can weigh up to 40 tons (that’s 80,000 pounds!) and they’re wider, taller, and longer than all the other vehicles on the road. Their whopping size makes them extremely dangerous in a collision. Need proof? Nearly 10% of all fatal auto accidents involve semi trucks.
Things only get worse when you add a fatigued truck driver to the mix.
The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finds that drowsy drivers are twice as likely as well-rested drivers to make driving errors at critical moments. These errors can lead to tragic accidents. When these tired drivers are manning 18-wheelers, the stakes are even higher.
Furthermore, a driver doesn’t have to reach the point of nodding off to be impaired. Any amount of sleep deprivation can have an impact. Driving while drowsy impedes important driver functions like:
- Reaction time
Put simply, drowsy driving is dangerous driving. Hectic holiday driving schedules can lead to exhausted truckers, so when you take to the road this season, proceed with caution.
Signs of Exhausted Driving
Pay close attention to other drivers on the road, especially truckers. If you see someone driving erratically, distance yourself from that vehicle, and remember that tractor-trailers need even more distance. Know the signs of drowsy driving, and protect yourself by steering clear of any drivers who:
- Change speeds unpredictably or keep tapping the brakes
- Swerve or weave in and out of driving lanes
- Excessively speed
- Overcorrect for driving errors
- Make multiple driving corrections
- Slowly veer or drift in and out of driving lanes
- Lose control of semis
Safety on the road should always be your primary concern, but take special precautions around the holidays. Be aware the trucker behind the wheel may have pushed himself past the point of safe driving. Many commercial fleet vehicles have a “How’s my driving?” sticker — don’t be afraid to call the listed number and report erratic behavior. If you see a truck moving dangerously through traffic, contact the authorities. You could help save a life.
Truckin’ Through the Holidays
When the holiday season hits, big rigs are often fully loaded with a lot of miles to cover. Trucking companies have a lot of cargo to move during the holidays, and they sometimes cut corners to meet important deadlines. This risky behavior can lead to dangerous accidents and fatalities.
Trucking companies owe a duty of care not only to their employees, but to all motorists on the road. This means trucking companies are responsible for:
- Hiring experienced professional drivers
- Adequately training new drivers
- Ensuring that their drivers have reasonable hours and schedules with adequate rest periods
- Ensuring all cargo is properly secured
- Inspecting rigs for safety
- Keeping up with regular truck maintenance
- Ensuring that truckers don’t have to drive in unsafe weather conditions
Trucking companies are harried by the holiday bustle — when their rigs are in high demand — but they still share responsibility for keeping the roads safe for everyone.
Every truck accident is traumatizing, but a traffic accident during the holidays can be especially painful. If you or someone you care about was injured in a Texas truck accident, we can help you recover. We know you’re already overwhelmed — that’s why we’ve made it our mission to protect your rights and strengthen your personal injury claim.
First, after any accident, you should seek immediate medical attention. Your next priority, however, should be to obtain representation from an experienced Texas truck accident attorney.
In the meantime, keep these important factors in mind after a truck accident:
- Don’t let the negligent party intimidate you. You were injured, and your rights matter. This goes for the trucker, the trucking company, the company’s attorney or insurance provider, and other representatives of the negligent parties. If you were injured by someone else’s negligence, it’s your legal right to seek the compensation to which you’re entitled. Refer all inquiries to your attorney and don’t back down.
- Don’t sign anything. If you’re offered a settlement, don’t feel tempted to sign it out of sheer frustration or to simply put an end to the matter. Your truck accident attorney will help you determine if the settlement truly compensates you for all of your losses, which can be financial, physical, and emotional.
- Don’t postpone filing. The longer you wait to file a truck accident claim, the more difficult it becomes to adequately support your case. Critical evidence is likely to lose credibility or deteriorate over time.
- Don’t volunteer any information. After a truck accident, you are naturally upset—but don’t take this opportunity to share your story with anyone associated with the at-fault trucker. This shared information could damage your case when the other side misconstrues it later. Your truck accident lawyer will share any information that you need to share.
There’s never a good time for a truck accident, but the holidays are perhaps the worst time. Unfortunately, the frantic pace of the season can lead to an uptick in these highly dangerous accidents. Winter naturally brings more inclement weather conditions for drivers, like icy roads and lower visibility from snow. When these conditions are combined with irresponsible behavior from a truck driver or their employer, it’s the perfect storm.
As the holidays approach, make driving safely your priority!
Contact an Experienced Houston Truck Accident Attorney Today
If you’re involved in a truck accident this holiday season, it’s important to speak to a Houston personal injury lawyer as soon as you can. At Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at law, we’ve been in the business for more than 20 years, and we’re here to help. To schedule a free case evaluation with the attorneys of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, call today at (866) 437-3820 or use our online contact form. Remember—you pay us nothing up front when we take your case, and you pay us nothing unless and until we’ve won your recovery.