Driver Fatigue and Truck Accidents
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), driver fatigue is a major cause of truck accidents. Driver fatigue can lead to drivers falling asleep at the wheel or taking unnecessary risks while they drive and can often lead to accidents. Fatigue can be caused by trucking companies having unrealistic expectations and schedules that call on drivers to hurry despite the risks involved.
The FMCSA limits the number of hours that drivers of large trucks and tractor trailers are allowed to drive in any given day. Drivers may only drive for 11 hours after having 10 consecutive hours of being off duty. This 11 hours of driving must take place during the 14 consecutive hours after a 10-hour break. For example, if a driver begins driving at 6 a.m., he must complete his 11 hours of driving before 8 p.m. that night which is when his next 10 hours of off-duty time should begin. FMSCA also requires that drivers take a 30-minute break after every 8 consecutive hours of driving. Drivers are also limited to drive 60/70 hours in a 7/8 day period. This is the weekly limit and depends on the type of schedule the driver works. Truck drivers are required to keep clear records of when they are on and off duty.
Why are Driving Hours Limited?
The purpose of the FMCSA hours of service regulations is to eliminate the type of fatigue and drowsiness that can lead to serious accidents. Driver fatigue can result in slower reaction times, the inability to recognize hazards on the road, and even drivers falling asleep at the wheel. A driver’s ability to assess whether they are capable of driving or not is also impaired. A drowsy driver may not realize the need to pull over until it is too late.
Trucking Company Responsibility
Federal trucking regulations only help with safety if they are enforced. Most commercial truck drivers are paid by the miles they drive and are therefore given every incentive to break the FMCSA hours of service regulations. Trucking companies have a responsibility to ensure that their drivers are not violating these important regulations. Trucking companies shouldn’t put pressure on their drivers to go beyond the allowed hours and should check driver logs. If a company suspects that a driver is violating FMSCA regulations, further investigation may be necessary. Evidence such as GPS tracking, receipts, shipping records, and surveillance video may be used to establish whether a driver is resting as often as he or she is required.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you’ve been injured in an accident with a truck, it may the result of trucker fatigue, and you should consult with an attorney. Contact the trusted lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk online or call us at 1-800-538-4878 to schedule your free consultation.