Driver fatigue among the most common causes of commercial trucking accidents
Truck drivers are frequently required to be on the road for long hours with little rest within relatively short amounts of time. As such, it is no surprise that driver fatigue is among the most common causes of commercial trucking accidents.
While there are federal regulations in place governing how many hours truck drivers can be on the road consecutively or within given periods of time, driver fatigue is still frequently a factor in accidents due to mismanagement or negligence in hour tracking, or simply due to the challenging nature of the job.
Here’s an overview of what you should know about driver fatigue in trucking accidents and what to do if you’ve been injured in an accident caused by driver fatigue.
Fatigued driving is unfortunately common
According to the CDC, approximately one in 25 of all general population drivers has fallen asleep on the road. The risk is higher for commercial drivers, who are more likely to be on the road for long stretches of time, including night shifts, and who spend more driving time on highways, which may lull drivers into a trance when there is not much traffic.
If you and your legal team have filed a personal injury claim against a trucker or trucking company due to an accident caused by a fatigued driver, you will need to be able to point to factors that indicate the driver was fatigued. Here are just a few of the most common causes of fatigue for truck drivers.
- Long shifts: Even when following regulations, truck drivers may still be on the road for a long time without much rest. The rules put in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration require only a half-hour rest period when drivers are on the road for 11 hours at a time. Drivers are able to work up to 14 hours in a single shift, which includes driving, maintenance, loading and unloading.
- Forged records: Drivers are required to maintain logs of how much time they spend on the road and when they take their breaks. However, if drivers fall behind in their job, they may falsify these records to get caught up even if they’ve already maximized the hours they can work that day.
- Tight deadlines: Why would drivers falsify their logbooks? Primarily due to some of the tight deadlines they face in their profession. Drivers are typically paid by the mile rather than the hour, which incentivizes working long hours. But they are also often given relatively short windows of time to get their delivery done, meaning if they begin to fall behind, they’ll feel as though they have to work extra hours to catch up and avoid potentially having their pay docked for late deliveries.
- Substance abuse: The use of various drugs or alcohol can significantly impair the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely. Specifically, alcohol and other depressants are more likely to cause drowsiness, which could result in fatigue-related accidents.
For more information about the steps to take in a personal injury claim arising out of accidents caused by truck driver fatigue, contact the experienced accident lawyers at Bond Legal today.