Recent news coverage in Portland and across the state of Oregon has shined a spotlight on an important roadway safety issue that we would like to address from a legal perspective. Almost every week, articles and televised broadcasts cover yet more Oregon auto accidents in which driver fatigue is a crash contributor. If it isn’t already, this should be an issue of concern to Portland drivers, bikers, and pedestrians alike.
Several months ago Portland newspapers and radio stations were tuned in to a transport union’s contract bargaining dispute in which distracted driving was a significant issue. At that time, local activists and an organization called Oregonians for Safe Transit had started a campaign to raise awareness of bus driver overtime practices that were leaving drivers fatigued and endangering those who might come into contact with their vehicles. Oregonians for Safe Transit issued a report that described how Portland bus drivers were working up to 22 consecutive hours and – not surprisingly – falling asleep on the job.
United States Federal law applies to interstate train operators, but not to bus or train operators who work within the boundaries of one state. Unlike Portland’s bus drivers, train operators are required to take a minimum of seven hours off in between shifts. This rule is in place to guarantee that train operators can get the rest that they need in between shifts in order to do their jobs properly and safely. The Portland drivers who were the focus of the organizing campaign this winter were not allowed to work for more than 17 hours without a break, but they also weren’t guaranteed any specific period of time off between shifts.
Driver fatigue is not only an issue for bus drivers – it is a real problem for everyday commuters. In a recent report issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (USCDC), 1 out of 24 U.S. drivers self-reported falling asleep while driving in the previous month. This study highlights an issue that affects drivers throughout the United States and which is well-documented in Oregon. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation’s most recent Motor Vehicle Traffic Crash Data publication, last year 8 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in the state of Oregon involved exhausted drivers.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a motor vehicle accident and you believe that fatigue was a factor leading to your injuries, contact a Portland auto accident lawyer right away. The compassionate, dedicated, and experienced attorneys at Dwyer Williams Potter Personal Injury Attorneys LLP would be happy to investigate your auto accident injury claim. Call us today for a free consultation at 888-700-4337.