Truck drivers work under stressful conditions, and sometimes they get behind the wheel when they are too tired to drive safely. The results can be catastrophic. Each year, thousands of people are injured in the United States when fatigued drivers crash into unsuspecting pedestrians and motorists.
If you or a loved one has been struck by a commercial truck driver, contact us today. Our truck accident attorney in Virginia can review your legal options and begin gathering evidence to support your claim.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) understands that fatigued driving is dangerous. According to the agency’s analysis, fatigue is a risk factor in about 13% of all truck accidents, totaling about 18,000 wrecks in a year. To counteract that, the FMCSA has created “hours of service” regulations that strictly limit the amount of time a driver can be behind the wheel.
For example, a trucker who transports goods is limited by the following rules:
- No more than 11 hours of driving after 10 consecutive hours off.
- No driving beyond the 14th hour while on duty following 10 consecutive hours off.
- A mandatory half-hour sleeper berth break after 8 hours.
- No more than 60 hours on duty in a 7-day period or 70 hours on duty in an 8-day period. This period can restart only after taking at least 34 consecutive hours off.
If these regulations were strictly followed, then the number of accidents would fall. However, many truckers are under pressure to drive more than allowed and then falsify their logbooks. One logbook has their true number of hours on the road, and the other with false information is shared with regulators. Government regulation can also be lax.
Revisions Weaken Existing Regulations
Even worse, many revisions to the hours of service regulations are slated to go into effect in September 2020. They will weaken the protections afforded to the public. Some of the changes include:
- Increasing the driving window by 2 hours when there are adverse weather conditions.
- Requiring the half-hour break after 8 hours of driving, not 8 hours of being on duty.
- Allowing the trucker to use time on duty but not driving to count for the half-hour break.
The FMCSA claims that these changes will not reduce safety, but we are not optimistic. For example, a trucker who is idling in heavy traffic for a half hour can count that as his “break.” However, he must remain mentally alert during that period in case traffic picks up, so in no way can we consider this half hour to be restful.
Why Truckers Still Drive When Tired
Despite the regulations, too many drivers continue to drive for too long. There are many reasons why, including:
- Trying to make up for weather delays
- Bonuses for additional stops
- Incentives for meeting tight deadlines
- Getting lost and trying to make up for lost time
Many truckers understand when they are tired, but they try to mask the problem with caffeine, NO-DOZ, and other over-the-counter stimulants. This strategy rarely works. It might keep a trucker awake but does nothing to improve his reflexes or mental alertness. Unfortunately, these stimulants are often counterproductive and can make a trucker even more tired. There is often a “crash” associated with too much caffeine, and a trucker can fall asleep while driving.
Contact a Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Truck accidents are devastating injuries, and victims need an established law firm by their side that knows how to negotiate tough settlements. For help with your case, please contact Breit Law PC today. We offer a free consultation where we can discuss your legal options.