Truck Driver Fatigue
Any tired driver can be dangerous, but if that sleepy driver is behind the wheel of a large commercial truck that may weigh up to 40 tons, the danger is much, much greater. Drowsy drivers have slower reaction times, and commercial trucks are difficult to maneuver or stop quickly. Also, many trucking companies pay by the mile to minimize costs and encourage drivers to make deliveries more quickly, which, in turn, leads to drivers skipping rest breaks and pushing themselves to maximize their pay. Other companies offer bonuses for making additional stops or miles. And drivers themselves can use poor judgment, such as driving late at night to avoid traffic or speeding to make up time and/or miles lost to poor weather or other delays.Truck drivers must follow strict regulations
Because of the risks posed by the size and poor handling of large commercial trucks, truck drivers have special state and federal rules they must follow to avoid impaired, distracted, or fatigued driving. The commercial trucking industry is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which mandates the number of hours truck drivers are permitted to operate commercial vehicles on a daily and weekly basis. The current rules state:
- Truck drivers may not drive more than 11 consecutive hours within a 14-hour period, followed by 10 hours off-duty.
- Truck drivers may not be on-duty for more than 60 hours within any seven-day period, or 70 hours within any eight-day period.
- A new weekly duty period cannot begin until the truck driver has been off-duty for at least 34 hours.
- Truck drivers are considered intoxicated if their blood alcohol level is 0.04 percent or higher, half the legal limit for passenger vehicles, and may not consume alcohol at all within four hours of operating a large truck.
As part of these regulations, each driver must maintain a log book of duty service for each 24-hour period, which provides a record of on- and off-duty hours in case any questions are raised about the amount of time the driver has been on the road.
Unfortunately, truck drivers are often pressured by trucking companies to stay on the road longer than the rules allow. Some drivers will falsify log books to conceal the number of hours he or she has been on the road. Occasionally drivers will turn to stimulants or even illegal drugs to stay awake, which further reduce their reaction time, judgment, and coordination.If you were in a truck accident, let us help you
If a fatigued truck driver causes an accident, the company that employs him or her may also be liable for any damages that result. The owner of the truck and other parties, such as the manufacturer, any leasing company, or cargo loader, may also share in that liability.
If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a trucking accident, you should contact our South Florida law offices immediately. Our attorneys will thoroughly investigate your accident, reviewing witness statements, citations, driver logs, toll booth and gas station receipts, weigh station records, GPS data, and other evidence to prove a driver violated hours of service or other regulations, and determining if a trucking company pushed its drivers to put in more miles than safety allows. Call us at 305-448-8585 or toll free at 877-448-8585 or complete our online form for a free consultation in English, Spanish, or Creole. An experienced law firm like Friedman, Rodman, & Frank can help you hold the negligent truck driver and the trucking company accountable for any accidents they caused, and ensure that you receive any compensation to which you may be entitled.