The Dangers of Truck Driver Fatigue
Accidents involving large commercial trucks tend to have especially devastating consequences. This is largely attributed to the fact that these vehicles can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds and often transport dangerous or hazardous materials. To help prevent these types of accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires drivers and their employers to comply with strict guidelines regarding loading procedures, driver qualifications, and driving time. The rules restricting truck drivers from operating vehicles for more than a certain amount of time every day play a particularly important role in preventing truck accidents, as it is estimated that as many as ten percents of all truck drivers who were involved in accidents were fatigued when the crash occurred.
What is Driver Fatigue?
Fatigue is the term used to describe the point at which either physical or mental exertion starts to impair another person’s reaction time and ability to make decisions. Although driving while fatigued is dangerous for anyone who operates a motor vehicle, it can be deadly for truck drivers, whose much larger vehicles can cause a devastating amount of damage. Fatigue has a number of different causes, but the most common include working long hours with inadequate breaks, health-related issues, taking medications that cause drowsiness, and suffering from a general lack of sleep. Whatever the cause, driving while fatigued is not only dangerous but also violates FMCSA regulations, especially if the driver has violated driving time requirements.
Driving Time Restrictions
The FMCSA specifically requires truck drivers to take at least one half-hour break every eight hours. Drivers are also prohibited from:
- Starting a shift without first having at least ten straight hours off duty;
- Operating a truck if they have worked more than 60 hours over the previous seven days;
- Driving a truck if they have worked for more than 70 hours in the last eight days; and
- Driving in excess of 11 out of every 14 hours.
Proof that a driver has violated one of these rules can play a substantial role in helping accident victims establish that a truck driver’s fatigue was the cause of their crash. To help demonstrate the violation of these rules, injured parties should look to specific evidence, including the police report, the driver’s log books, data recorded on in-vehicle technologies, and the driver’s medical exam results.
Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Today
Please contact Brown & Gould, PLLC at 405-235-4500 to speak with a compassionate and dedicated attorney about your own accident. We understand that you may be dealing with lingering injuries and so are happy to schedule an off-site visit or set up an evening or weekend appointment.