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Accidents Caused by Truck Driver Fatigue

Oldham & Smith Aug. 30, 2017

Collisions with large commercial trucks are some of the most dangerous types of car accidents and occur at an alarming rate across the state. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)estimates that more than ten percent of truck accidents are caused by truck driver fatigue. Falling asleep at the wheel is dangerous for any driver, but can have particularly devastating consequences for truck drivers who operate vehicles that weigh as much as 80,000 pounds and often carry dangerous cargo.

Federal Regulations

Fatigue is a term used to describe the point at which a person’s reaction time and decision-making ability are impaired due to exhaustion. Although driver fatigue can have a number of causes, including intoxication and the ingestion of certain medications, most driver fatigue can be attributed to a lack of sleep and work too many hours.

To help prevent drivers from becoming overworked, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instituted a series of rules by which both drivers and their employers must abide. For example, these regulations require truck drivers to take at least one 30 minute break every eight hours, while also prohibiting them from:

  • Starting a shift without having had at least ten consecutive hours off duty;

  • Operating a truck if they have been on duty for more than 60 hours over a seven day period;

  • Driving more than 11 out of every 14 hours; and

  • Operating a truck if they have been on duty for 70 hours in the last eight days.

Liable Parties

When a driver violates one of these rules, he or she can be held liable for the medical expenses and lost wages incurred by those injured as a result. The employer of a fatigued truck driver can also be held responsible if it failed to adequately train its employees, forced drivers to work long hours by over-scheduling, or failed to supervise drivers by checking their driving logs. Although collecting compensation may not be able to return injured parties to their pre-accident state of health, it can go a long way towards helping them begin the process of recovery.

Discuss Your Case With a Dedicated Truck Accident Lawyer

To speak with an attorney about your own truck accident-related injuries, please call Oldham & Smith today. A member of our legal team is standing by and eager to address your questions and concerns.