The pressure for truckers to continue driving, despite being fatigued, is so common that it has become alarming. It is the number one cause for accidents involving trucks that are the fault of the truck driver. Truck driver fatigue accounts for 35-40% of all truck accidents. A truck driver who is experiencing fatigue and forcing himself to continue driving, due to the pressure of a strict deadline or arduous schedule, may be as impaired as a driver that is under the influence of alcohol.
Truck driver fatigue is extreme tiredness or exhaustion caused by lack of sleep, working overtime, loading and unloading heavy cargo or a combination of any of these. A fatigued driver is often operating with the aid of coffee or one of the popular energy drinks containing large amounts of caffeine. They are often unable to judge their own level of fatigue until they become mesmerized by the roadway and suddenly doze off. A truck with a weight of 20 to 40 tons careening down the highway with no one in control is an unguided missile of death and destruction.
Laws to Prevent Truck Driver Fatigue
Federal law allows a driver a maximum of 11 consecutive hours on the road followed by a required 10, or more, hour break. They are permitted a combined total of 14 hours driving and non-driving work. Often the work they must do, prior to or during their driving schedule is physically tiring. Many drivers despite these regulations spend 12-14 hours on the road plus another 4-6 hours of non-driving work in a single stretch. The motivation may be a bonus for meeting a deadline, a stringent schedule by the trucking company or consignor, inclement weather creating lost time or trying to finish in time to pick up a return load.
A truck driver is permitted to drive 60 – 77 hours in a seven day period and 70 – 88 hours in a consecutive eight day period. After two and a half days off they may restart their work week at zero hours. Although a log is required to be kept for all commercial drivers, both independent and company employed, many drivers falsify information in these logs and exceed the allowed hours on the road. When an accident does occur these logs are not always an accurate indicator of the actual hours driven. A truck accident investigator must track the route and stops of the driver in the hours prior to the crash all the way back to the time of the trucks initial arrival and departure. The distance driven times the average speed minus the time of each stop is calculated to determine the time on the road. Some trucks today are equipped with electronic on board recorders (EOBR) that keep track of the hours driven. These are only required to be installed on trucks owned by companies with a poor compliance record. Most truck drivers still use the paper log books which have changed little in decades.
Truck driver fatigue can cause a driver to have hallucinations, breaking or swerving in reaction to hazards that don’t exist. A fatigued driver may doze off at the wheel or become so tired that their judgment and reaction time is impaired.
Involved in a Truck Accident?
If you are involved in a truck accident it is important, after receiving proper medical attention, to seek the help of a truck accident attorney. The experienced attorney will have the necessary resources to conduct a thorough investigation. An accident reconstruction team is necessary to recreate exactly what happened in the hours leading up to the crash as well as immediately before and during. In one case, a drivers log showed he stopped for a morning meal break for almost two hours. The investigator discovered a spilled cup of coffee and a wrapper along a receipt for a fast food chain. This helped to show the driver consumed coffee and a sandwich in the truck after driving all night. It was determined that the driver actually drove for 14 hours with only two 15 minute breaks and was eating at the time of the crash.
Truckers have insurance investigators and legal teams that are highly experienced in proving the trucker was not at fault in a crash. An independent trucker will fight vehemently to maintain his or her livelihood. Only a truck accident attorney with equal experience is qualified to stand up for the rights of an innocent person who was injured in a truck accident. As a victim you may be entitled to collect damages for present and future medical bills, loss of income over your lifetime, rehabilitation, job retraining along with pain and suffering. The experienced truck accident attorney knows the true value of your case and will fight tenaciously to get you the compensation that you truly deserve.
If you were injured or a loved one was injured or lost their life in a truck accident, reach out to Dolman Law Group today and speak to an experience truck accident attorney. There is no cost or obligation for an evaluation of your case. Call us at (727) 853-6275.
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652