Articles Posted in Drowsy Driving Truck Accidents

Distracted driving and drowsy driving are two of the leading causes of fatal New Mexico truck accidents. Truck drivers spend countless hours on the road and can become easily tired or distracted after a long shift. This creates a serious danger not just for other motorists, but also for those who routinely find themselves working along the edge of the road.

In 1996, New Mexico lawmakers passed the first version of the state’s “Move Over” law, which was designed to protect emergency workers from the hazards of routinely working near the road’s edge. At the time, lawmakers noticed an increase in New Mexico roadside traffic accidents, especially those involving police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel.

Thus, under New Mexico Statutes Section 66-7-332, a motorist who is approaching a stationary “authorized emergency vehicle” from behind must take certain precautions when passing the vehicle. Specifically, the passing motorist must change lanes as to not drive in the lane immediately adjacent to the lane in which the emergency vehicle is stopped. The driver must also slow down to a “reasonable and prudent” speed and proceed with caution.

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) periodically conducts studies on the rate of crashes and compiles data on the fatalities, injuries, property damage, and causes of these types of accidents. The most recent study has shown that the rate of fatalities following a large truck accident has increased by almost 30% since 2009. The study showed that there has been about an 8% increase in large truck accidents since the last time the study was conducted. Furthermore, there has been about a 2% increase in bus accidents. The study also found that the distance traveled by large trucks has increased by about 0.3%. Most pertinent is that at least one driver-related issue was noted for almost 35% of fatalities related to large truck accidents.

Common Causes of Large Truck Accidents in New Mexico

The FMCSA noted that speeding was the most noted driver-related factor in these accidents, but the second was distraction and then impairment. Impairment is considered to consist of things such as illness, intoxication, and fatigue.

Fatigue occurs when a truck driver is physically or mentally exerted to a point at which their performance is impaired. Some common reasons for this may be long work hours, inadequate sleep or rest, and difficult or laborious work.

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Determining what happened in the moments leading up to a fatal New Mexico truck accident is not always a simple task. While some truck accidents are straightforward, and the causes can readily be determined by local authorities, others require an in-depth investigation. An investigation into a fatal truck accident may require investigators to look into cell phone records, rest logs, and maintenance records.

Back in October of last year, a fatal bus accident that occurred on a California highway claimed 13 lives and injured several others. According to reports at the time, the bus was carrying upwards of 40 passengers when it rear-ended a semi-truck. At the time, it was clear from the wreckage that the bus was traveling much faster than the truck, but authorities were unsure what caused the accident.

According to a recent news report, the driver of the semi-truck that was rear-ended was arrested and charged with several counts of vehicular homicide and reckless driving. Apparently, the truck driver had stopped his truck on the highway in a traffic jam that was caused by road construction up ahead. However, while he was stopped, the truck driver fell asleep. When traffic resumed, the truck driver remained asleep until his truck was rear-ended by the bus moments later. The bus was traveling at 76 miles per hour at the time of the collision.

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One of the main causes of serious and fatal truck accidents is drowsy driving. Truck drivers are compensated by the mile, so the longer a driver can stay on the road per day, the more money he or she will make. However, these long hours on the road come at the obvious cost of a driver’s decreased ability to remain awake and fully aware of his surroundings.

To help combat the incentives for truck drivers to stay on the road as long as possible, federal government regulations require that truck drivers get a certain amount of rest per day and between long trips. To help enforce these regulations, truck drivers are required to keep logs of the hours they spend on the road as well as the time they spend resting.

Until recently, trucking companies had a choice to keep electronic logs or hand-written logs. However, the use of hand-written logs has long posed a problem because truck drivers can keep dishonest records or even change the records in the event an accident occurred. For example, if a truck driver is involved in an accident and knows that he has been on the road longer than he should be, that driver may be tempted to change the rest log so that when an investigation is conducted, his violation will not be discovered. This may no longer be possible.

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New Mexico is an expansive state that many truck drivers pass through when making cross-country trips. An unfortunate consequence of such frequent travel through the state is the increased risk and prevalence of accidents. There are several causes of trucking accidents in New Mexico, such as truck driver inexperience, mechanical flaws in the truck, and unfamiliarity with road conditions. Additionally, one very common cause of trucking accidents in New Mexico is truck driver fatigue and drowsiness. There are many reasons that truck drivers may be drowsy when they are driving and still continue on without stopping for appropriate rest.

The trucking and transportation industry is highly competitive, especially in this day and age when many customers order goods online and rely on timely shipments. Often, transportation and trucking companies will mandate that their employees complete shipments in a specific amount of time. Many times, trucking companies require that their drivers drive almost 70 hours in an eight-day time frame. This comports with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which allows truckers to drive up to 11 hours straight in one day. Unfortunately, these requirements lead to exceedingly fatigued drivers who are expected to make their trips profitable for their company. There is no way that drivers can drive this amount of time without experiencing fatigue.

Furthermore, many times, truck drivers use both legal and illicit stimulants to stay up in the hopes that accidents will be avoided. However, research suggests that the overuse of these stimulants can actually result in opposite effects. There is no substitute for actual rest and sleep. The drivers may believe that they are more alert than they actually are, and accidents are bound to occur.

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