Despite FMCSA’s hours of service limits, truck driver fatigue continues to be one of the leading causes of truck crashes each year. Research has shown that driver fatigue impairs performance and reduces the ability of the driver to safely operate a vehicle, which can increase the risk of accidents. Commercial truck drivers are particularly susceptible to fatigue because of long work hours, chronic sleep deprivation, driving for extended periods at night, and the pressure to meet unreasonable delivery deadlines. These accidents can cause major collisions that often result in serious injury or death, and you will need a skilled truck injury lawyer to help you through the aftermath of one of these accidents.
Dangers of Truck Driver Fatigue
According to the Department of Transportation, truck driver fatigue is responsible for 13 percent of all trucking accidents in the United States. Fatigue negatively impacts driving performance by:
- Slowing reaction times
- Reducing the driver’s ability to pay attention to the road
- Decreasing alertness
- Reducing the driver’s ability to make good decisions in a timely manner
When the driver of a large truck is fatigued or drowsy, the results can be devastating. Large commercial 18-wheelers often weigh 20-30 times that of smaller passenger vehicles and are more difficult to operate because they have a longer stopping distance, a larger turning radius, and bigger blind spots. Fatigue can cause truck drivers to:
- Easily become distracted
- Fall asleep at the wheel
- Drift into another lane
- Fail to stop in time
- Lose patience while driving
- Lose track of speed/li>
Common Causes of Truck Driver Fatigue
- Driving too many consecutive hours without stopping
- Use of medication that causes drowsiness
- Lack of quality or quantity of sleep
- Untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnea
- Insufficient breaks while driving
- Driving during late-night or early morning hours when a person would normally be sleeping
Federal Hours of Service Rules for Truck Drivers
In 2011, the FMCSA issued new hours of service rules to try and reduce the number of accidents caused by fatigued driving. Those rules went into effect on July 1, 2013, and mandate the following:
- Interstate commercial truck drivers cannot drive more than 11 hours or drive after 14 hours since starting a shift until they have taken a 10-hour break.
- Drivers cannot drive after accruing 60 work hours during a 7-day period or 70 work hours during an 8-day period, but under the “restart” provision, truckers may resume driving after 34 hours off duty.
- Truck drivers are allowed only one restart every seven days, or 168 hours.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for truck drivers to violate the hours-of-service rules because of pressure to deliver loads on time.
How an Alabama Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
If you have been harmed in a truck accident involving a fatigued driver, contact the truck injury lawyers for help. Our attorneys have 65 years of collective experience handling truck accident cases and we know how to hold the responsible parties accountable. We understand the financial, physical and emotional fallout victims of truck accidents face and we will fight to obtain the maximum compensation possible for your injuries. We can investigate your accident, collect valuable evidence in support of your claim, and negotiate with insurance companies and third parties on your behalf while you focus on healing.
Let us put our skills, experience, and resources to work for you. The truck injury lawyers at Belt & Bruner, P.C. are experienced in taking truck accident cases involving serious injury to trial. We have won more than $200 million in settlements and jury verdicts. To find out more about how we can best represent you, learn how our Montgomery truck injury lawyers, Mobile truck injury lawyers, Huntsville truck injury lawyers, or Birmingham truck injury lawyers can help you.