New Mexico catastrophic accidents are events that no driver or pedestrian expects. Accidents involving large semi-trucks or tractor-trailers often involve life-threatening injuries for all parties affected by the accident. Recent attention has been given to a fatal accident involving a well-known comedian, particularly after it was revealed the driver admitted to being awake for over 24 hours. In 2011 alone, there were 88,000 victims of large-truck crashes with 3,700 killed in that year. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration reports that fatalities increased in 2012 by four percent to 3,921. By far, these accidents affected occupants of other vehicles far more than the people in the trucks.
Truckers are currently under a 14-hour restriction for time on the road. Recent efforts by the trucking industry have been made to lift that restriction so drivers don’t feel compelled to push through the 14 hours rather than take a nap, since the nap during the 14 hours doesn’t extend the time allotted by regulation for driving a commercial vehicle. Other truck driver regulations include a mandated 30-minute break after the first eight hours, a limit of 70 hours on total driving time for an eight-day period, and a mandated 34-hour break once a week. The trucking industry has pushed back against the regulations, but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has placed the blame on trucking companies’ over-stringent expectation placed upon the drivers to deliver goods by a specific time.
In addition to driver behavior, regulations also guide how trucks are constructed, maintained, and used to transport hazardous materials. When a truck accident occurs in New Mexico, an experienced attorney can help thoroughly investigate what party is responsible. Drivers must enter their activities in a log book that tracks their hours of service in a 24-hour period to avoid overly fatigued drivers. Unsafe driving, whether exhausted or not, is still an unfortunate reality inherent to the profession due to the incentive to make or beat deadlines. Post-accident documentation reveals that drivers self-medicate to stay awake through use of illegal drugs or abused prescription medication. Immediate investigation can help determine whether the driver or the company failed in their duty to maintain safe practices. Like airplanes, commercial trucks have black boxes that record the drive and can help determine the specific occurrences involving the truck. Continue reading →