Commercial truck drivers spend long hours behind the wheel and often cover thousands of miles facing tight delivery deadlines. Driver fatigue is a recognized occupational hazard of truckers and the cause of thousands of serious and fatal accidents each year. According to the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, a 2007 federal study, driver fatigue is a contributing factor to more than one out of every seven crashes involving a large truck, semi, semi-trailer or 18-wheeler.
Thus, the federal government enacted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. These regulations address the maximum number of hours that a truck driver may be on duty. See 49 CFR § 395.5.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a truck accident or 18-wheeler crash caused by driver fatigue, contact a compassionate and skilled St. Louis truck accident lawyer to answer your questions. At The Cagle Law Firm, we are ready to evaluate your truck accident free of charge and explain your legal options. You have a legal right to seek compensation for injuries you suffered in a truck accident caused by a fatigued truck driver.
Hours-of-Service Limits and Driver Fatigue
Federal regulations, called hours-of-service limits, govern the amount of time that interstate truck drivers can operate an 18-wheeler each day and each week on the highways of Missouri and Illinois. Unfortunately, some trucking companies put pressure on their drivers to ignore the rules and drive until they are dangerously fatigued and no longer alert to changes in driving conditions. Driver fatigue is a contributing factor to 13 percent of large truck crashes, according to a 2007 study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Large trucks such as semis, semi-trailers, flatbeds, tanker trucks and other 18-wheelers were involved in one out of 11 fatal accidents in Missouri in 2008, according to federal traffic safety data. Big rigs were involved in one out of 10 fatal accidents in Illinois, according to the data. Driver fatigue was a contributing factor to many of those accidents.
After many hours behind the wheel, any driver becomes exhausted and less alert to changes in traffic and road conditions. Truck drivers often resort to use of over-the-counter drugs and stimulants to try to battle fatigue and keep driving. But when a drowsy driver is operating a big rig weighing 80,000 pounds, the results of a driving mistake can include catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths to the occupants of other vehicles.