Driver Fatigue and Truck Accidents
Fatigue is a dangerous factor for anyone operating a motor vehicle, but it is especially dangerous for drivers of multi-ton tractor-trailers. Driver fatigue is the number one cause of truck accidents on America’s highways. As one of the most competitive commercial industries in America, the trucking industry is built around making fast deliveries of thousands of products every day. Unfortunately, this often leads trucking companies to place undue pressure on their drivers, asking them to meet scheduling demands that simply cannot be met without serious safety compromises.
Truck accidents are responsible for a higher percentage of injuries and deaths than accidents involving passenger vehicles. And the leading cause of truck accidents is driver fatigue.
Truck Drivers Sometimes Ignore Federal Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates truckers with laws that govern exactly how long they can operate a truck on a daily and weekly basis, as well as how long their rest breaks should be after each driving shift. According to federal law, drivers must:
- Not operate their truck for more than 11 consecutive hours
- Take a minimum 10-hour rest break after a full driving shift
- Limit on-duty time to 60 hours in seven days, or 70 hours in eight days
In spite of these regulations, drivers and trucking companies may ignore or encourage breaking these rules in order to reap the financial benefits of completing more jobs in shorter timeframes. This often means shortening required rest breaks and/or driving for longer than 11 consecutive hours just to meet the demands of their employer. Some trucking companies even pay their drivers by the mile and do not compensate them for any on-duty time spent inspecting trucks or taking other safety precautions.
Some truck drivers resort to drugs to combat fatigue, but many drugs can actually increase the risk of a collision by affecting a driver’s ability to reason and respond to routine challenges such as adverse weather, poor road conditions, shifting cargo loads, and heavy traffic. Other drivers falsify their mandatory logbooks in an attempt to conceal how many hours they’ve really spent behind the wheel on a given day.
Contact a Norfolk Truck Accident Lawyer
The Virginia truck accident attorneys at Kalfus & Nachman know that, like most traffic accidents, collisions involving semi-trucks are largely avoidable. We have helped numerous truck accident victims and their families recover the financial compensation they deserve, and we understand trucking company policies and tricks. We have the experience and resources to investigate logbooks, challenge inaccuracies, work with accident reconstruction experts, and investigate trucking company practices and history.