A southbound tractor-trailer drove through the median barrier and crashed head-on into two northbound vehicles last week. Seven people were injured, one critically. It’s a miracle that no one was killed in this high-speed collision.
According to a report by a local news source, the collision happened south of Waco in Elm Mott about 2:00 o’clock a.m. on Monday morning.
As the huge tractor-trailer entered the southbound lanes, it collided with another semi-truck, then crashed into a Ford pick-up truck. The driver of the southbound semi-truck was badly burned in an engine fire and had to be flown by air ambulance to the burn center at Parkland Hospital in Dallas.
The driver of the other 18 wheeler was trapped in his truck and could only be freed with the “Jaws of Life,” then was also rushed to the emergency room. The pick-up truck contained three adults and two children, all of whom were taken to a local hospital.
Police do not yet know what caused the southbound semi-truck to cross over into the northbound lanes. It seems apparent that the 18 wheeler was at fault, but a defectively maintained truck or a mechanical malfunction such as a blown tire might have occurred. An investigation is underway.
I am participating tomorrow in an extensive examination of an 18 wheeler that rear-ended vehicles on I-35 in Fort Worth and caused one man to die and another to be injured. The case is discussed in the first blog below.
Was Drowsy Driving Responsible?
The facts of this case give rise to the logical inference that drowsy driving may have played a role in the accident. First, it occurred early in the morning, when truck drivers are likely to be exhausted from a long day of driving. Second, the accident involved the truck drifting out of a lane of traffic, through a steel barrier, and into oncoming traffic.
You will remember that the actor Tracey Morgan was seriously injured and a fellow passenger was killed in June by a Wal-Mart truck driver who dozed off after driving for more than 24 hours and rear-ended their stopped van.
Why Is This A Problem?
The number of collisions, deaths, and injuries caused by truck drivers is frightening:
* Over 500,000 tractor-trailer collisions happen in the U.S. in a typical year
* One person is injured or killed because of a commercial truck accident every 16 minutes
* A fully loaded semi-truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds
FMCSA Regulations on Hours Of Service Truck Drivers Can Drive
The federal government has issued regulations that govern how much sleep drivers must get. On July 1, 2013 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revised its hours of service rules.
The new rules reduced the amount of time drivers can be on the road by
— Limiting the maximum average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours from 82);
— Allowing drivers who reach 70 hours to resume if they rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights when their body clock demands sleep the most (from 1:00 to 5:00 a.m.) and;
— Requiring drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.
Companies and drivers that commit repeated violations of these rules could face the maximum penalties for each offense. Trucking companies that allow drivers to exceed driving limits by over three hours could be fined $11,000.00 per offense and the drivers could have to pay fines of up to $2,750.00 per violation.
“Hours-of-Service Logbook Examples” are available on the FMCSA web site at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-of-service.
The truck industry fought FMCSA’s implementation of these new rules. The problem is that truckers are commonly paid by the mile or the job and do not want to stop driving. A common expression you hear is “if the wheels ain’t turning, the truck ain’t earning.” Truck drivers should be paid hourly to reduce this built-in incentive to drive excessive hours.
Recovering After a Drowsy Driving Truck Accident
If you have been involved in a truck accident that was caused by a drowsy driver, the law allows you to bring a lawsuit seeking compensation for your injuries and damage. However, in order to prove your case, you will need to show that the driver was either drowsy to the point where he or she could not pay attention, or negligent in some other way.
A good lawyer is essential. I see truck drivers and truck companies falsify log books and records after collisions. One of the first things an experienced 18 wheeler accident lawyer does after he inspects the truck is to subpoena the trip logs, receipts, and other evidence of how many miles the truck driver has driven before the crash.
Have you Been Injured In a Collision With a Large Commercial Vehicle?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Fort Worth or Dallas 18 wheeler accident, please contact me by phone at 817-885-8000 (or toll-free at 1-888-801-8585) or on my law firm’s website.
As a Fort Worth truck wreck lawyer I have seen my fair share of serious 18-wheeler collisions and understand the terrible impact they have on those injured. I will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Texas DPS Cracks Down on Unsafe 18 Wheel Trucks, July 23, 2014.
18 Wheeler Wreck Kills Driver in Fort Worth, June 27, 2014.