Driver Fatigue Causes Many Truck Accidents
Fatigued truck drivers are literally everywhere, and it’s no wonder why there are so many drowsy truck drivers on the roads. The U.S. has a major truck driver shortage, which means all truck drivers constantly have to keep up with the ever-growing demand for delivery services across the nation, prompting many of them to sacrifice sleep in order to be able to keep up with unrealistic deadlines.
The average commercial truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, which makes it extremely difficult to drive even for a trucker who has had plenty of sleep, is full of energy and vigilant.
Why Fatigued Driving Is Dangerous
In order to operate a truck safely, a truck driver has to pay attention to the road and constantly look at his or her rearview and sideview mirrors to check for blind spots, not to mention that the braking distance is much longer in trucks than in passenger vehicles.
A truck driver who has had little to no sleep or rest and/or is driving for consecutive hours than allowed by federal law cannot be expected to stay focused on the road, be fully aware of his or her surroundings and constantly check for blind spots.
Of course, not all truck drivers are fatigued. However, there are many fatigued truck drivers on the roads, and fatigued driving is dangerous. It impairs a driver’s reaction time, judgment and decision-making ability, which significantly increases the risk of being in a truck accident.
Federal Laws Regulating Truck Driver Fatigue
Statistics indicate that about 40% of all truck accidents in Missouri and all across the U.S. are caused by lack of sleep and fatigued driving. In fact, you are more likely to encounter a fatigued truck driver than a drunk truck driver despite the common stereotype that all truckers drive under the influence of alcohol.
Lack of sleep is not the only factor that causes fatigue in truck drivers. Driving for many hours in a row, working in a stressful environment, facing tight deadlines and heavy workload, not getting adequate breaks and many other factors also contribute to truck driver fatigue.
Under the federal regulations imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck drivers are prohibited from driving for more than 11 consecutive hours to prevent driver fatigue. Also, truck drivers are legally required to take 10 consecutive hours off before continuing to drive.
Who Is Liable For A Truck Accident Caused By Driver Fatigue?
It may be rather difficult to prove that the truck driver who was involved in your truck accident was fatigued and that his or her fatigue was the direct or proximate cause of the accident. However, a skilled truck accident attorney may be able to help you request the truck driver’s logbooks, which can become a key piece of evidence in your legal case.
A fatigued truck driver may not be the only party that can be held liable for your damages and losses, as the trucker’s trucking company may also share liability if it failed to properly supervise the truck driver, failed to prevent the truck driver from violating the federal hours of service regulations and/or in any way caused the truck driver to be fatigued (for example, by setting unrealistically tight deadlines).
What Can Happen In These Incidents?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an 18-wheeler can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. When a truck of this size and weight is involved in an accident, the results can be catastrophic. During the latest reporting year, there were over 15.5 million trucks on the roadways.
In many cases, accidents involving large trucks occur due to driver fatigue. Even though there are strict regulations regarding a driver’s hours of service, they are not always followed, such as:
- 11-hour driving limit (within a 14-hour time window) after 10 consecutive hours off
- No more than 60 or 70 on-duty hours in a seven- or eight-day workweek, respectively
- Must take a 30-minute break before driving after eight consecutive hours
Most drivers’ hours are logged electronically now, but there are still paper logs in use, and even electronic logs can be tampered with. However, a driver can still be fatigued behind the wheel even if they have followed the proper regulations.
Driving while fatigued can have devastating results for others on the roadway. It is not uncommon for us to see the following injuries as a result of a large truck accident:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Bone fractures
- Loss of or damage to a bodily organ
- Dismemberment or amputation
- Significant disfigurement
- Other injuries that inhibit a person’s daily activities
The FMCSA says that there were over 148,000 total injuries and 4,761 fatalities due to large truck crashes during the latest reporting year in the U.S.
Let Us Get To Work On Your Case Today
If you or someone you care about has been injured due to a truck driver falling asleep behind the wheel, please seek legal assistance today because you may be entitled to significant compensation. The team at Mayer & Associates, P.C., is ready to get to work investigating the incident to secure the compensation you deserve. This can include:
- Coverage of medical expenses related to the crash
- Recovery of lost wages if you are unable to work
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of enjoyment of life damages
- Punitive damages against the truck driver or trucking company