The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) governs and enforces trucking rules and regulations. Any truck driver in the U.S. that operates a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) is subject to these rules and regulations. However, truck drivers are pushed to make a profit for their trucking companies. While strict rules and regulations are in place regarding rest breaks, many truck drivers suffer driver fatigue — placing the safety and protection of themselves and other motorists on the roadways in serious jeopardy.
Hours of Service Regulations
There are several laws and regulations enacted by FMCSA, many of which relate to the safety of truck driving in light of truck driver fatigue. According to recent statistics, drowsy or tired truck drivers caused 78,000 injuries and 1,200 deaths on the roadways each year, accounting for up to 40 percent of all accidents. FMCSA has attempted to address truck driver fatigue through specific rules and regulations.
The Hours of Service Regulations were enacted by FMCSA specifically to ensure that truck drivers follow safe guidelines for rest and sleep. Truck driver fatigue can occur when a driver is not in good physical condition, but also if they do not follow the established guidelines for rest and sleep. These guidelines, which should be strictly enforced, state that all truck drivers may only work for certain periods of time and then by law, must take a break. Some of the guidelines include the following requirements:
- Maximum 11-hour driving limit (after 10 consecutive hours off-duty)
- Only drive 60 hours in seven consecutive days, or 70 hours in eight consecutive days
- The consecutive driving period can only restart after 34+ consecutive hours off-duty
Truck Driver Fatigue and Auto Accidents
Despite the heavy regulations regarding sleep and rest, many truck drivers not only drive drowsy, but in almost one-fifth of all crashes, they admit to falling asleep at the wheel. Long work schedules, sleep apnea and driving the night shift all contribute to truck driver fatigue.
Driver fatigue is serious. According to the National Sleep Foundation, after 24 hours of sleep deprivation, a truck driver can exhibit the same amount of impairment as someone who has a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.10% — significantly above the legal limit. Driving drowsy is a serious problem as it produces the following consequences and dangers:
- Impairs coordination
- Slows reaction times
- Impairs judgment
- Decreases vision
Truck driver fatigue is a serious issue, and when it does cause auto accidents, they tend to be catastrophic, with severe personal injuries and death.
Contact an Experienced Trucking Accident Attorney Today
If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident that you believe may have been caused by truck driver fatigue, you likely have suffered extensive and serious personal injuries. As an injury victim, you have the right to receive compensation from the at-fault truck driver and/or the trucking company that employs them. Contact the experienced trucking accident attorneys at Lowenberg Law Firm at (832) 990-6893 or online today to help you understand your legal rights and discuss your next steps.