Tired Truck Drivers Pose a Risk To Motorists
In the trucking industry, miles mean money. Commercial truck operators routinely live and work by the clock, spending countless hours behind the wheel without adequate rest periods. According to federal statistics, drowsy driving is a leading cause of accidents and highway fatalities, and 18-wheeler accidents are no exception. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced new regulations to reduce truck driver fatigue in an effort to improve safety for public roadways.
The regulations stipulate that truck drivers must take a ten-hour break after each 14-hour shift, in which they cannot drive for more than eleven consecutive hours. It is projected that these safety regulations will prevent some 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries every year.
If you have been involved in a truck accident in the greater Los Angeles area and believe that driver fatigue may be to blame, The Salamati Law Firm is uniquely qualified to discuss the merits of filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Truck driver fatigue a leading cause of accidents
Truck driver fatigue isn’t only caused by long work hours or a chronic lack of sleep. Interrupted sleep and slumber which is poor in quality due to rotating schedules are other crucial factors. Even in situations where semi drivers comply with the federally-mandated ten-hour break, they commonly do so in the confined quarters of their rig’s tiny berth while parked in a crowded truck stop. The cumulative result is thousands of drivers behind the wheel who are dangerously drowsy, leaving themselves and others at increased risk for a deadly accident.
A truck driver who is not thoroughly rested is more prone to:
- Poor judgement
- Reduced performance and coordination
- Bad decision making, potentially relying on stimulants to stay alert during their shift, or alcohol to get sleep during rest breaks
- Aggression and reckless driving
- Reduced ability to process information around them
- Slowed reaction times for braking, decelerating, etc.
According to a 2006 Large-Truck Crash Causation Study reviewed by the Department of Transportation, driver fatigue accounts for some 13 percent of all trucking accidents in the U.S. This figure is not surprising given that most truckers work under tremendous pressure, and many get paid by the mile.
Drowsiness a common cause of truck accidents
Sleep deprivation has a major impact on driver performance, and one study showed that its effects are akin to driving while drunk. Truck drivers who are awake for 24 consecutive hours have the same capacity as someone with a blood alcohol content of .10 percent. Drowsy driving is one of the common causes of truck accidents in California and other states, where fleets of commercial semis are constantly traversing the freeways.
Companies and truck drivers that violate federal safety regulations may face steep penalties for each offense. Trucking companies that permit drivers to exceed limits by more than three hours may be hit with a $11,000 fine per offense, while drivers could face civil penalties of $2,750.
Proving driver fatigue in a trucking accident
Building a strong case in an accident stemming from truck driver fatigue is not an easy task. Los Angeles truck accident lawyer Sean Salamati has the resources and experience to investigate the crash and identify liable parties. This usually entails reviewing electronic driver logs, communications with the trucking company, trip diversions and prior violations. Investigations will also look over circumstantial evidence, such as the actions taken before the accident that suggest the driver was impaired by lack of sleep.
Most Californians know about the dangers of drinking and driving, but they don’t realize that driving while fatigued can be just as deadly. Trucking companies that fail to provide their drivers with adequate training and proper rest periods are putting their workers and the general public at great risk for catastrophic injury. When trucking companies pressure drivers with unrealistic and demanding schedules, they too may be held legally responsible for any damages and injuries caused.
When you’ve been injured in a big rig accident, you need an accomplished personal injury lawyer who consistently gets results for his clients. Call the Salamati Law Firm in Los Angeles to schedule a free consultation today. We provide compassionate and aggressive legal representation to truck accident victims throughout southern California. Call 888-259-4060 to learn more.
Truck driver fatigue resources
- FMCSA, Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) Analysis Series: Using LTCCS Data for Statistical Analyses of Crash Risk https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/research-and-analysis/large-truck-crash-causation-study-ltccs-analysis-series-using-ltccs#sthash.SoESNkSy.dpuf
- US Department of Transportation, Why We Care About Truck Driver Fatigue https://www.transportation.gov/fastlane/why-we-care-about-truck-driver-fatigue
- New York Times, Truckers Resist Rules on Sleep, Despite Risks of Drowsy Driving http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/17/business/truckers-resist-rules-on-sleep-despite-risks-of-drowsy-driving.html
- CBS Sacramento, Truck Drivers Say Fatigue Is A Risk They Have To Manage On California Highways http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2016/03/31/truck-drivers-say-fatigue-is-a-risk-they-have-to-manage-on-california-highways/