Commercial truckers have become a key component of the U.S. economy. While online shopping has been a popular phenomenon for the past decade, the pandemic made the e-commerce industry skyrocket from a convenience to a necessity for many Americans. In order for companies to meet their shipping promises to consumers, truckers work day and night, not to mention the thousands of truckers who transport cargo from one business to another. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recognizes the pressure that these constant demands can have on commercial trucking companies and their employees and have put strict regulations in place when it comes to how many hours truckers can spend on the wheel. Despite these additional measures, some truckers continue to drive past the point of exhaustion, placing themselves and other drivers at risk.
Looking at the Statistics
Drowsy driving is a real risk that many drivers–both commercial truckers and everyday drivers–brush to the side. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving claimed 795 lives in 2017 and caused 4,111 fatalities between 2013 and 2017. In 2017 alone, approximately 91,000 car accidents involving drowsy driving occurred. Studies have been done on the causes of commercial motor vehicle accidents, and the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) reported that 13 percent of commercial truckers were considered to be fatigued at the time of their accident. While drowsy driving may not be the sole reason for the accident, it is certainly a contributor when it comes to car crashes.
What Are the Restrictions?
Unlike drunk driving, your average driver has no restrictions when it comes to drowsy driving other than being urged not to get behind the wheel. For commercial truckers, things are a bit stricter. Truckers have limits on how many consecutive hours they can drive and how frequently they can work. This is similar to other workplace restrictions in that this protects the employee and employer from fatigue-related work injuries, but when it comes to commercial drivers, the need is even greater. The following are the hours of service regulations that property-carrying truckers must follow:
Drivers have an 11-hour driving limit after taking 10 consecutive hours off work
Drivers may not drive more than 14 consecutive hours after taking 10 consecutive hours off work
Drivers are required to take a 30-minute break when they have driven for 8 consecutive hours
Drivers may not drive more than 60/70 on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.
Drivers are allowed to divide their 10-hour off-period as long as one period is at least 2 hours long and the other involves at least 7 consecutive hours spent in the sleeper berth.
You may be wondering how one could prove that a trucker was fatigued at the time of the accident, but with the help of a personal injury attorney, it is more than possible. A skilled lawyer will review the driver’s records, including their recorded time off that is a requirement of the job, to find proof of their fatigue and liability for the accident. When it comes to truck accidents, a number of parties can be at fault, even if fatigue is involved. For instance, the truck driver may have been clocking more hours by his or her own free will without asking permission or notifying the employer. On the other hand, the trucker may have felt pressured to take on more hours by his or her employer, making the employer partly responsible. Personal injury cases are more nuanced than you may think, which is why you should always turn to an experienced legal professional for help.
Contact a Will County Truck Accident Lawyer
Accidents involving commercial vehicles can be catastrophic, leaving the trucker and any other drivers in the surrounding area with devastating, sometimes fatal injuries. At Flaherty Law, we are dedicated to securing compensation on your behalf and holding the negligent parties accountable for their actions. If you have been injured in a crash involving a truck, contact our Plainfield, IL personal injury attorney at 815-577-7500 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.