In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 40% of all truck accidents involve truck driver fatigue to some extent.
According to a series of studies, driver drowsiness is a leading cause of accidents involving large trucks.
The NHTSA estimates that truck driver fatigue contributes to 40% of all heavy truck crashes
The National Transportation Safety Board study found that fatigue was a prominent factor in 52% of 107 heavy truck crashes; in 18% of those crashes, the driver admitted to falling asleep at the wheel
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that the risk of a crash effectively doubles from the 8th to the 10th hour of driving and doubles again from the 10th to the 11th hours
According to FMCSA findings, over 750 people die and over 20,000 are injured each year due to fatigued commercial drivers
Due to the well-known dangers of fatigued truckers, there have been many steps taken to combat the problem. One such way is the implementation of hours-of-service (HOS) regulations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which puts a limit on how many hours truckers can work in any given day or work week.
Examples of the HOS regulations for a property-carrying driver include:
Despite well-known dangers of fatigued drivers, the FMCSA has continued lobbying for rules that would stretch HOS regulations further, though they have been continually struck down by federal courts. Under their proposed rules, truckers could drive 11 hours every day of their work week, take a weekend of 34 hours, and then continue driving for an exhausting 77 hours in a 7-day period.
Many believe that drivers should be required to use tamper-proof recording devices, like Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs) to accurately monitor their daily and weekly drive times. This could help reduce the temptation to drive drowsy and protect injured victims in their pursuit of compensation. According to statistics, only 45% of commercial trucks have EOBRs installed in them.
There are several factors that must be taken into consideration by your lawyer. For example, it is vitally important that your attorney takes the time to examine the driver's log to check whether or not the driver had been operating for a lawful amount of hours. During the interview or disposition, your attorney needs to ask questions pertaining to the driver's amount of sleep and rest prior to the accident occurring. Questions should also be asked regarding any substances used to help a driver stay alert.
Should your attorney determine that fatigue played a considerable role in the accident, the next step would involve looking into the driver's working conditions. For example, did the trucking company have guidelines that supported the driver getting adequate amounts of rest? If not, the trucking company could be potentially liable for the accident. In cases where drivers are paid per the mile or by the load, they may be financially driven to drive past their natural limits—leaving them on the road without the necessary amounts of rest. In these cases, the trucking company may be found to have encouraged drivers to work too long.
If you were injured in a serious accident with a tractor-trailer, protect your right to compensation before it's too late. When you retain the services of our trucking accident law firm, we will work immediately to investigate the accident and determine its cause. Truck driver fatigue is one of many issues we may consider. By thoroughly investigating the scene, the truck, trucking records, witness accounts, police reports, and all other relevant evidence, we and our accident reconstruction experts can work to paint a clear picture of what occurred. This can help us prove the legal responsibility of the other party or parties.
Contact a truck accident lawyer to discuss truck driver fatigue and its role in 18-wheeler accidents.