How Can Driver Fatigue Factor into Trucking Accidents?
Posted on February 7th, 2015 by Zane Cagle
Truck Driver Fatigue[cbc_playlist videos=”10364″]Truck driver fatigue is an enormous issue in this country. There have actually been studies that show that truck driver fatigue causes as much impairment as alcohol or drugs. Thus, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has made rules for truck drivers in which there are only so many hours in a 40 hour time period– hours per day in which a driver may drive. A lot of drivers keep “log books” and this is a log that details their hours of service which means hours actually driven, when they are on-duty but not driving such as loading and unloading, and when they are off duty. Other drivers and trucking companies have electronic logging so that the truck driver inputs the information into a computer and they do not keep their logs with them.
The FMCSA updated the rules of Hours of Service on 12/14/14 by suspending the 60/70 hour limit.
Essentially, the Hour-of-Service regulations are designed to decrease the number of drivers of commercial vehicles driving while fatigued. Fatigued driving results in slower reaction time and less attention to the roadway. Enforcement of these Hours-of-Service need to be upheld so that common carriers and trucking companies cannot take advantage of commercial drivers. Supporting these regulations include encouragement of trucking companies to not place unreasonable expectations on drivers. When trucking companies place unreasonable expectations and/or timelines on drivers, drivers are tempted to drive when over tired.
Usually, one of the first things that a police officer or compliance officer will do when they pull over a truck driver is to check their log books because it is such an enormous problem. The enormous problem is truck drivers driving over their hours of service, and being over tired. Truck drivers driving fatigued is much like they are driving while intoxicated.
Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMR)
Most drivers must follow the House-of-Service regulations when driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). In general, a CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business and is involved in interstate commerce and fits any of the below descriptions: (FMSCA)
- Weighs 10,0001 pounds or more
- Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
- Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
- Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
- Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards.
Truck driver fatigue reached mass media attention last summer in the truck accident that involved famous comedian, Tracy Morgan. In that crash, fellow comedian Jimmy McNair was killed and currently there are personal injury lawsuits involving the truck driver and the trucking company. While the Morgan truck crash occurred in New Jersey, I have written several articles on the devastation that can occur when a driver is operating such an enormous vehicle and is fatigued. This last year has seen tragic deaths in Illinois when a truck driver was allegedly operating a semi far beyond his Hours of Service.
The Hours of Service regulations are not there to penalize truck drivers or trucking companies. Logically, when a vehicle can weigh up to 80,000 it can have a devastating impact on other roadway occupants. Federal regulations exist in an attempt to make highways and interstates safer for all of us. When these regulations are enacted, it is truly important to make an impact on the common carrier/trucking company.
If you have been injured in a semi-truck accident or have been in a crash with a commercial vehicle, it is critical that you seek immediate information from an experienced truck accident attorney. If you are hurt, then you will probably need representation. Filing a claim with the insurance company for a trucking company works a little differently than when you submit to another passenger car driver’s insurance. Since commercial carriers are required to secure large insurance policies, you will not get the general “claims adjuster”. If you are not injured, then you may not need a personal injury attorney. However, if you are injured, seeking the immediate assistance of a personal injury attorney is critical. Call our attorneys seven days a week, toll free (314) 276-1681 or locally (314) 276-1681