Falling asleep on the job is always frowned upon, but when youre responsible for keeping a multi-ton vehicle on the road, the consequences of a little grogginess can be deadly. In the 2000s, truckers on Tennessee roads caused over 125 annual fatal trucking accidents, killing more than 145 each year, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Factors such as impractical deadlines, idealistic expectations and unpredictable sleep schedules often leave truck drivers with no choice but to begin or continue routes while under the stress of truck driver fatigue. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, 30 40% of all accidents involving large trucks may be caused by insufficient sleep or fatigue.
Unfortunately, a truck drivers #1 goal is to drive as many miles as possible in the smallest window of time, despite the laws and regulations that have been created and amended in order to deter this phenomenon. While industry regulators continue to take measures to improve safety in the occupation, commercial trucking industry pressures continue to influence the way trucking companies operate, often in ignorance of the law.
The aftermath of a collision due to a fatigued trucker can be horrifying. If you or a loved one has sustained injuries or lost their life due to the negligence of a truck driver, Greg Coleman Laws experienced attorneys may be able to help you.
Discover your legal options today fill out our Free Case Review form to your right to get started.
Why Truckers Drive Tired
Although the causes of fatigue for a truck driver are usually the same as they would be for any individual, the motivation to stay on the road when dangerously sleepy is often unique to a truck drivers occupation.
Some reasons truckers ignore fatigue include:
- Anxiety to get home after hours, days or weeks on a route
- Bonuses issued by a trucking company for adding stops
- Trying to avoid traffic to achieve maximum mileage
- Trying to get back miles or time lost in poor weather or traffic jams
Unfortunately, the only way a trucker can earn extra money and meet quotas is often by remaining on the road when less than alert. To combat exhaustion, many drivers will consume caffeine or other stimulants. This act can further impair a trucker. When a dangerously tired trucker causes a collision, the driver and company may be liable for the injuries caused.
Regulations in the Trucking Industry
Hours-of-service regulations were revised in 2005 by the FMCSA, with the intention of reducing the number of consecutive hours a driver will spend at the wheel, increase safety and prevent collisions.
Taking effect in July 2013, the revisions are as follows:
- Restart: A 36 hour rest period is required after 60 work hours have been recorded in 7 days, or 70 work-hours in 8 days
- Interstate: no more than 11 consecutive hours shall be spent behind the wheel, nor may a driver continue driving past 14 hours from the start of his shift until a 10 hour rest period has been satisfied
- Sleeper: sleeper birth equipped trucks allow a driver to spend the 10 hour rest period split between at least 8 hours in the sleeper birth, with the remaining 2 being spent in the sleeper birth or outside the truck off-duty
If these regulations were followed, a large number of collisions caused by truck driver fatigue may have been prevented. Sadly, the pressures from the trucking companies have led to many drivers keeping dual service-hour logbooks, one containing actual work-hours and the other doctored to meet regulations in order to satisfy any investigations.
The FMCSA and other industry forces will continue to revise regulations and seek new ways to improve trucking safety. Hopefully the changes made in the future will be taken seriously by truckers and the companies they contract with, and the number of accidents, injuries and deaths caused by large commercial vehicles will begin to decrease. However, until those in the industry begin to adopt the measures put forth by the FMCSA, accidents will continue to plague American roads.
Contact Our Trucking Accident Lawyer
Over 6% of the vehicles on Tennessee roads in 2010 were trucks involved in fatal accidents, as data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows. If you or someone you care about was the victim of truck driver fatigue, you may be eligible to pursue legal recourse. Our Knoxville trucking accident lawyers have the expertise to defend your rights.
Greg Coleman Laws attorneys have been providing legal representation to injury victims like you for a combined 4 decades. We are proud to be a part of the Tennessee community and believe it is our responsibility to protect the legal rights of individuals throughout our great state. Having earned hundreds of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients, we fight to obtain the maximum compensation in every case.
Our main office is located in Knoxville, TN, and we accept clients from the following areas:
- Oak Ridge
- and cities and towns throughout The Volunteer State
Call (865) 247-0080 today to learn about your legal rights, discover whether you have a case, and schedule your free case evaluation.
To get your case review started now, simply fill out your information in the Free Case Review form at the top of this page.