Truck driver fatigue is a serious problem on our nation’s highways. Pressure to move freight with strict time constraints leads some truck drivers to push their physical limits and even avoid federal regulations concerning rest breaks. A fatigued driver is a hazardous driver.
Driver Fatigue Contributing to a Trucking Accident
Estimates of truck driver fatigue as the cause of a trucking accident can vary from 5% to 30%. Falling asleep behind the wheel is only one way for driver fatigue to contribute to an accident. Excessive yawning, daydreaming, fixated eye actions, and slower reactions can all lead to a collision and the wrongful death of a fellow motorist and are all considered driver fatigue.
Truck Fatalities in the United States
In a study performed by the National Highway Transportation Authority, fatalities when a truck is involved in a collision average between 4,000 and 5,000 deaths annually. Of the fatalities, the overwhelming majority of victims are occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, or cyclists.
In fact, 85% of the fatalities are not occupants of the truck. Unlike a car accident, the other party to the collision is far more at risk. 75% of the trucks involved in this study were tractor trailers; the other 25% were single trucks. Though large trucks constitute 2% of the vehicles on the road, truck collisions are responsible for 9% of fatal crashes every year.
Truck Driver Regulations Involving Fatigued Driving
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has created a complex and strict set of rules in attempt to prevent truck driver fatigue. It places limits on how long a driver may operate a vehicle at one time, specifies required rest periods, and dictates how long a driver must be at rest before driving again.
A few examples:
- The 11-hour rule prohibits a driver from driver more than 11 hours at one time, and only if the driver had 10 consecutive hours of rest.
- The 14-hour rule prohibits driving after the 14th hour of coming on duty. “Coming on duty” does not merely mean driving time, but being present in the terminal, gas stops, loading and unloading times, etc.
- A driver may not drive more than 60-70 hours in a 7-8 day period. A new 7-8 day period can only begin if the driver is off for 34 hours, called the 34-hour rule.
Under the laws of Texas, a truck driver who causes a fatal collision and is found to have violated these rules will have caused a wrongful death.
Getting Help After an Accident
If a person has been injured in a truck accident, or lost a loved one due to a fatigued driver, the Coppell accident attorney group of Todd R. Durham Law Firm can put their skills and experience to the benefit of their client. Call 214-222-4000 for a free consultation.