Just like any other type of motor vehicle incident, semi truck accidents happen for a variety of reasons. These include impaired driving, violating traffic laws, bad weather and simple recklessness.
Drowsy driving is another problem on Houston’s roads and highways. But it is especially common — and dangerous — among professional truck drivers. Despite federal regulations, many trucking companies impose long routes with short deadlines on their drivers. As a result, truckers feel pressured to work long shifts without rest breaks or sleep. Some drivers are forced to stay on the road 11 hours a day.
Eventually, lack of sleep will bring an exhausted trucker to their breaking point. Driving while fatigued seriously impairs a trucker’s ability to operate a tractor-trailer safely. Symptoms can include:
- Nodding off for a few seconds
- Reduced perception
- Delayed reaction times
- Poor short-term memory
- Biased decision-making
Note that these effects are similar to drunk driving, often with the same tragic outcome. With reduced senses, judgment and reflexes, a crash with a passenger vehicle becomes much more likely. And because an 18-wheeler is much heavier than a pickup truck, SUV or car, it can cause much more damage.
Holding truck companies accountable
Often, when someone is badly injured in a truck accident, they can seek compensation from the trucker’s employer as well as the trucker themselves. Even though the driver’s supervisors and managers were not at the accident scene, their negligence could have contributed to the conditions that led to the wreck. For example, trucking companies sometimes fail to train inexperienced drivers before sending them out onto the road. Or they set unrealistic delivery schedules that force drivers to skip sleep and drive for too many hours without a break.