More than 750 motorists are killed and another 20,000 suffer personal injuries in truck accidents caused by fatigued drivers each year. The long hours spent behind the wheel of a big rig can be monotonous for even the most proficient of truckers. Fatigue can cause drowsiness, delayed reaction times and inattention, not to mention the risk of a trucker simply falling asleep while driving.
Federal regulations have been developed covering hours-of-service that dictate how long a truck driver is allowed to operate a commercial motor vehicle during a single shift. However, the increasing number of truck crashes and hours-of-service violations nationwide prompted officials to shorten drivers’ shifts in December 2011.
If you or someone you love was injured or killed in a tractor trailer accident, call the truck accident attorneys at the Rode Law Firm today for a quick and detailed consultation free of charge.
It doesn’t take much for our truck accident lawyers to get started on your case. Just answer a few questions by phone and complete a small amount of paperwork. We’ll promptly begin investigating your claim. There is no fee unless we successfully recovery for you in your case.
Call the Rode Law Firm and get on your Road to Recovery.
We are available 24/7 by calling (918) 599-8880, or you can complete our online form. You won’t pay unless we win your case.
Our truck crash lawyers are well-versed in the state and federal laws governing the trucking industry and are prepared to fight insurance companies, motor carriers, or any other at-fault parties, either during settlement negotiations or at trial.
What You Should Know About Truck Driver Fatigue
A fatigued truck driver is a dangerous truck driver. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 500 of the 3,765 deaths in large truck crashes in 2010 involved an overly tired driver.
Fatigue manifests in different ways for different people. Being on the road for a long time can cause sleepiness, headaches, restlessness, body aches, boredom, irritability and concentration problems. Also, many truckers are unable to tell when they are too tired to drive safely. A study on truck driver fatigue conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration found that truckers did not assess their own levels of fatigue correctly based on objective physiological and other measures.
Hours-of-Service Regulations and Violations
In an attempt to reduce the number of deadly truck accidents caused by fatigued drivers, FMCSA established hours-of-service (HOS) requirements (Part 395 of the agency’s Rules and Regulations) several years ago. In December 2011, FMCSA amended some of its hours-of-service regulations to provide new limitations on how long a truck driver can legally operate a rig.
The new hours-of-service regulations, which will be effective July 1, 2013, state that:
- A truck driver is limited to a 70-hour work week. Under the old rule, drivers could work up to 82 hours over a seven-day period.
- Truck operators cannot drive a rig after eight hours without taking a 30-minute break. Drivers can take the rest time whenever they choose during the eight-hour period.
- Daily shifts are restricted to 11 hours. That’s the same daily limit that existed under the old rule.
- Truck drivers who reach their 70-hour weekly limit must rest for two nights before resuming their work. FMCSA also has a “restart rule,” which allows drivers to begin their work week after spending 34 consecutive hours off-duty. A restart can be used only once over a seven-day period.
With trucking company profits depending on timely deliveries, companies have been found to put pressure on truckers to transport their loads quickly and not enforce driver hours-of-service regulations even though they know that a truck driver has exceeded the FMCSA limits.
In addition to driving longer than they should, some truck operators are guilty of falsifying the log books that they are required to keep in order to record their trips. In an effort to reduce the likelihood of falsifications, FMCSA has instituted mandatory electronic logging devices (ELD) to maintain records for Hours of Service. However, there are exceptions for older trucks, limited use trucks, trucks being delivered as the transported item.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Injured in a Truck Accident Related to Driver Fatigue?
Obviously the first thing you need to do is seek medical attention. After that, if you’ve been involved in an truck crash, you may be eligible for damages that will compensate you for your injuries. That’s why you should contact a lawyer who knows about the trucking regulations as soon as possible.
Truck companies are protected by high-powered insurance companies and defense lawyers who will quickly jump on a report of a serious crash with injuries or fatalities. Obtaining evidence from the accident scene and other documentation is essential proof in truck accident cases. Some evidence – particularly, records of hours of service – do not have to be kept forever, and it can be difficult to obtain if too much time has passed since your accident.
In addition, an attorney can file legal documents that prevent the truck from being repaired. This is important because repairs could mask important physical evidence from the crash. Skilled tractor trailer lawyers will also consult the best experts to provide testimony about the crash and your injuries and what the long-term impact on your quality of life will be like in the months and years following the wreck. Put together, all of this information is needed build a solid case to help you recover — both physically and financially.
Truck accidents can have life-changing consequences for victims and their families. Medical expenses and lost wages often create financial hardships that endure for years, especially if you are unable to return to the same level of work that you did before. Don’t delay – contact the Rode Law Firm in Tulsa right away. We can give you a quick assessment and advise you of your legal options. There is no fee unless we successfully recover for you in your case.
Call the Rode Law Firm and get on your Road to Recovery.
For a free consultation, complete our online form or call our office at (918) 599-8880.