Truck drivers spend very long hours on the road, and they are often pressured to drive even while exhausted to complete deliveries. About 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers were considered fatigued at the time of their crashes, according to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS), based on a three-year data collection project.
The risks of truck driver fatigue endanger everyone on the road. When a commercial trucker becomes drowsy or falls asleep behind the wheel, the potential consequences of an accident can be devastating.
Federal law limits the number of hours a truck driver can operate without taking a break. Violations of these Hours of Service rules could make a trucking company liable for the harm victims suffer in commercial truck accidents. An experienced attorney will know how to seek evidence of these types of violations.
Dangers of Drowsy Driving Among Truckers
Fatigued drivers are at much higher risk of causing motor vehicle accidents because they are not in peak physical and mental condition to cope with the complex task of safely driving an 80,000-pound truck. Fatigue can make a driver slow to react in an emergency, such as the need to brake or swerve.
In other cases, drivers may attempt to get to destinations more quickly by speeding and driving aggressively. Excess speeds by commercial trucks are always a significant risk of possible collisions.
The most obvious danger with a fatigued driver is the possibility of falling asleep at the wheel. When this occurs, it inevitably leads to a loss of control of the vehicle and possible overturn accident, often involving multiple other vehicles.
Sleep-Related Issues in Commercial Drivers
Commercial truck drivers commonly suffer from sleep apnea. Many drivers attempt to counter the effects of sleep apnea with sleeping pills.
Other types of prescription or illegal drug use are also somewhat common among truck drivers. Some drivers rely on stimulants to try and stay awake.
Hours of Service Rules and Drowsy Driving Prevention
The Hours of Service of Drivers Final Rule published in the Federal Register states that there are three maximum limits all commercial drivers must comply with.
A driver is allowed a period of 14 consecutive hours to drive up to 11 hours after being off duty for 10 or more consecutive hours. At the end of the 14 hours, the driver cannot operate again until they have been off duty for 10 consecutive hours.
A driver can only operate for up to 11 total hours during the 14-hour period. They are not permitted to drive if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of their last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes, and a driver must be off duty for another 10 consecutive hours before driving again.
When a company does not operate vehicles every day of the week, the maximum amount of time a driver is allowed to operate is 60 hours in seven consecutive days. If a company does operate vehicles every day of the week, the driver can work up to 70 hours in eight consecutive days.
Seeking Compensation for Injuries in a Truck Accident
Did you suffer severe injuries or was your loved one killed in a commercial truck crash caused by a drowsy driver? Make sure that you contact a skilled attorney as soon as possible.
The record of success for the Champion Firm, P.C. includes $1.375 million recovered for a victim who needed spinal surgery after a rear-end tractor-trailer wreck. Call us or contact us online now to take advantage of a free consultation.