Two weeks ago one of Orange County’s busiest freeways was shut down over the busy Memorial Weekend ago due to a tanker truck accident that closed highway 91 for over eight hours. According to eye witnesses, the truck was involved in a chain reaction crash with two other vehicles; then hit the center divider, went airborne, rolled over and burst into flames. Traffic was backed up for several hours while emergency vehicles took 3 injured to local hospitals.
Last week another tanker truck accident closed the 134 freeway in Los Angeles for several hours while the California Highway Patrol cleaned up the massive spill. The truck overturned and this time, fortunately, there were no injuries.
According to the Truck Safety Coalition more than 5,300 people are killed each year and over 20,000 are injured in truck-related crashes. Additionally, 98% of the fatalities involving trucks and automobiles are the occupants in the car. Since 1982, over 126,000 people have killed in large truck crashes and several thousand more have experienced severe personal injury. An an Orange County Truck Accident Lawyer, we see the devastation related to these accidents.
California has the second largest large truck fatalities of any state except Texas. Investigations reveal that the primary cause of most truck accidents are fatigue and lack of sleep. The Department of Transportation, DOT, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, FMCSA, have agreed to a new round of discussions regarding the tired trucker issue. This is a public safety issue and needs to be solved quickly!
According to Anne Ferro, chief of the FMCSA, “Three in 10 truck drivers suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea”. Sleep apnea is a truck safety issue as well as a health issue for the general public. Sleep apnea leads to fatigue and fatigue is a major cause of accidents.
In addition to fatigue being a major safety issue, the trucking industry is concerned that sleep apnea will create legal risks for trucking companies involved in accident litigation. If this condition is a known factor in a large population of its drivers, truck accident lawyers could conclude that the trucking companies are not managing this health problem.
Currently in /Washington, D.C., the Senate’s transportations’ subcommittee has been reviewing options for truck safety legislation. Electronic Onboard Recorders, EOBR’s are still voluntary for most trucking companies but experts feel that online monitoring would help prevent problems such as logbook falsification and violating hours of service where drivers exceed their maximum hours of driving.
In a recent survey, 21% of truck drivers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel. With these statistics, it is urgent that the trucking industry and congress get to work to keep our highways safer.