This dangerous lack of concentration has happened to most of us and is even more treacherous if the inattention stems from the driver’s being sleepy. In fact, if the tired driver is operating a large commercial truck, the consequences can be deadly.
People in cars are often seriously injured or even killed in wrecks involving commercial trucks because the average truck is so much larger and heavier than the typical automobile. A fully loaded truck can weigh 75,000 pounds more than a regular car. An additional concern is that some trucks carry hazardous materials, which can result in catastrophic personal and environmental damages if that truck crashes. Exhausted drivers have slowed reaction times and diminished abilities to assess situations quickly.
HOW MANY CRASHES ARE CAUSED BY TRUCK DRIVER FATIGUE?
Fatigue can affect any driver at any time, and most people are unaware that their actions are affected. Tests exist for helping to determine whether alcohol or drugs are contributing factors in a crash. However, there is no test for identifying whether driver exhaustion played a role in a wreck. Thus, it is highly likely that the role of driver tiredness in accidents is statistically underrepresented. It is estimated that fatigue is a factor in up to 30 percent of fatal crashes and contributes to approximately 25 percent of insurance losses within the trucking industry.
Truck accident claims are complex and trucking companies’ insurers want to protect their interests by paying as little damages as possible. That’s why you should consult with a truck accident attorney to be sure you get the compensation you deserve.
AREN’T THERE REGULATIONS?
In order to address the problem of truck driver fatigue, numerous federal and state regulations have been enacted to dictate the conditions under which a driver can work. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has altered its hours-of-service (HOS) safety requirements for commercial truck drivers in an attempt to restrict working hours.
Hours of Service Requirements: The rules limit the maximum average work week to 70 hours (down from a maximum of 82 hours) and requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift. Drivers who reach the maximum can resume if they rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. (the time when the human body most needs to rest). The rules also limit daily driving to 11 consecutive hours and the work day to 14 consecutive hours (including maintenance, loading, paperwork, etc.). Trucking companies that allow their employees to exceed driving limits by more than three hours or who encourage their drivers to falsify the data in the log books they are required to maintain can be fined $11,000 per offense. The drivers can also be penalized up to $2,750 for each offense.
Jobs in the trucking industry are not designed with the needs of the human body in mind. Driving demands prevent opportunities for normal rest and misalign internal body clock physiology, leading to impaired performance when awake and poor sleep when finally at rest. Data suggests that even drivers who follow the rules may not get enough quality rest during their downtime and may go back to work just as tired as when they came off the road.
Sleep-deprived truckers pose a serious safety problem. Delivery deadlines and financial incentives quickly become irrelevant excuses if a fatigued truck driver causes an accident by such careless actions as departing from a lane, failing to yield or rear-ending another vehicle.
TRUCK DRIVER FATIGUE ACCIDENT LAWYER
Kentucky truck driver fatigue wreck attorney Billy Johnson and the Johnson Law Firm have been helping accident victims for 15 years.
A proven advocate, Billy has been named a Super Lawyer by U.S. News & World Report as well as an American Trial Lawyers Association Top 100 trial lawyer and he is a proud member of the Million Dollar and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forums. Put his experience to work for you by calling the Johnson Law Firm at 606-433-0682 or by filling out this online consultation form for a free assessment of your case.