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Zelbst, Holmes & Butler Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawyers

Attempts to curb trucker fatigue derailed by industry

Trucking accidents continue to be a growing problem on the highways throughout the United States. Today, there is more truck-traffic on the roads than ever before, with 70 percent of our domestic goods being delivered by big rigs.

One of the biggest contributors to trucking accident is fatigued driving. The more hauls truckers make, the more they -- and their employers -- are paid, so it is no surprise that truckers feel pressure to stay on the road when they are in need of sleep.

But it isn’t usually truckers who are the ones to suffer when a collision occurs. Oftentimes, they are able to walk away from the accidents, protected by their giant rigs. It is the drivers and passengers in the other vehicles who suffer.

In fact, a semi with a full load can weigh 80,000 lbs, which is no match for a passenger vehicle, typically weighing in at 4,000 lbs. It's not a fair fight, and many passenger car occupants never fully recover from the collisions, if they survive at all.

Federal regulators know all of this, which is why in 2013 they introduced stricter regulations on the trucking industry. They reduced the maximum number of hours that truckers can drive each week from 82 to 70, and they mandated that truckers take breaks late at night, when they are most likely to fall asleep behind the wheel.

But the trucking industry fought back, and last December Congress suspended the new rules. Now it will likely be several months before federal officials consider tougher regulations again, and fatigue will likely keep contributing to serious and fatal trucking accidents.

Unfortunately, it isn’t until a person is directly impacted by a trucking accident that they understand how devastating they truly are. Making matters more difficult is the fact that insurers for trucking companies often do everything in their power to deny or minimize claims.

Insurance companies know how expensive it is to treat the injuries that are often caused by trucking accidents, and they don’t want to be liable for it.

That’s why victims need a fierce advocate on their side who will fight for the compensation that they deserve and send a message to the trucking industry that profits shouldn’t be prioritized over people.

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