Fatigued Truck Driving Lawyer
A tired driver is one of the most dangerous hazards on the road. That’s especially true if the driver is operating a tractor-trailer. The additional size and weight of a tractor-trailer compared to even the biggest SUV mean that these trucks strike with a lot more force in a crash. This leads to more serious, if not fatal, injuries.
If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a fatigued truck driver, you should speak with a knowledgeable truck accident attorney right away. Attorney Scott C. Gottlieb is here to help you pursue the full compensation you need after a devastating accident. To schedule a free consultation on your case, contact us now.
What Is Fatigued Driving?
Fatigued driving is when a driver is so tired that his or her driving performance is affected. Fatigued drivers’ reaction times are slower. They have a harder time making quick decisions. They may have memory lapses. They may not see hazards until it’s too late. In extreme cases, a driver may fall asleep at the wheel.
Research shows that being awake for 18 hours leaves drivers as impaired as a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent, which is the limit for drunk driving in most states.
Fatigued driving is also disturbingly common. Data from the National Sleep Foundation show that 60 percent of adult drivers have driven a car while drowsy in the past year. More than one-third of drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel. These facts help illustrate the extreme dangers that come with drowsy driving, especially for commercial truck drivers.
Why Truck Drivers Are More Likely to Drive While Fatigued
Trucking companies have strict delivery schedules. They count on their drivers to get those deliveries where they need to be on time, no matter what. Because commercial trucking companies are so deadline-driven, they may push their drivers to take unnecessary risks to make sure the delivery is made in time. This includes encouraging drivers to keep going even when they’re tired.
This puts truckers in the position of having to choose between best practices for safely handling their vehicles and keeping their bosses happy. You can imagine how that corporate pressure might well influence drivers’ behavior.
Laws to Prevent Drowsy Driving
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has specific guidelines limiting the amount of time truckers can drive before taking a required break. These rules are known in the industry as “Hours of Service” (HOS) guidelines. Here are a few of them:
- The 14-hour window: HOS rules permit a driver to work for up to 14 consecutive hours after being off-duty for 10 or more consecutive hours. This window starts as soon as a driver begins any type of work, whether it’s driving or something else. Naps, lunch breaks, and other off-duty times do not stop the clock on this 14-hour window. During this 14-hour work window, the driver may drive for a maximum of 11 hours. Once the end of this window has been reached, the driver cannot drive again until he or she has been off duty for another 10 consecutive hours.
- Rules on mandatory rest breaks: A driver must take a 30-minute break if more than eight hours have passed since the last break period of at least half an hour. Any non-driving, off-duty activity that lasts for at least 30 minutes counts as a break, including meals.
- The 60/70-hour weekly limit: In any given seven- or eight-day period (depending on the particulars of a driver’s schedule), a driver can work for a maximum of 60 or 70 hours, respectively. It’s important to note that this schedule is not based on a fixed week, i.e., Monday to Sunday. Rather, this limit is based on a floating seven- or eight-day week ending with the driver’s most recent day. Once a driver hits this limit, he or she is not allowed to operate a commercial vehicle until enough time has passed that the driver is in compliance again.
Accidents Caused by Fatigued Truck Driving
Many types of accidents can be caused by a fatigued truck driver, including:
- Sideswipe accidents: Fatigued drivers might drift out of their lane and into another lane, causing them to strike another vehicle from the side.
- Rear-end accidents: If drivers are too tired to see or react to a car stopped in front of them, they may rear-end the other vehicle.
- Head-on collisions: Fatigue can cause drivers to drift from their lane into the path of an oncoming vehicle, setting up a head-on collision.
- T-bone crashes: A tired driver may not notice a red light until it’s too late to stop or take any evasion action. This can cause a T-bone crash.
- Underride/override accidents: Underride or override crashes occur when a tractor-trailer collides with another vehicle, and the other vehicle slides under the side or rear of the trailer. These accidents are some of the most deadly crashes that can occur on the road.
Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyer Today
If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a fatigued truck driver, you should know your legal rights. These kinds of crashes can lead to lifelong injuries and may require expensive medical care. You are entitled to compensation when a driver’s or trucking company’s negligence causes you such harm.
To learn more, contact attorney Scott C. Gottlieb today to discuss your case in a free consultation