Interstate truckers are subject to Hours of Service (HOS) limits and are required by Federal Law to keep records of all the time spent on the road, on duty but not driving and the time they are off duty. There are strict limitations regarding how many hours straight they are allowed to operate their truck, full or empty, and how much rest is required prior to operating it. Despite their records being spot checked by the DOT and the state police, many sleep deprived truckers still continue to operate their trucks, putting everyone on the road at risk of a catastrophe.
Unscrupulous companies place demands on drivers that are not only unrealistic but dangerous. Independent truckers race against time to deliver a load early, in order to pick up a return load, pushing themselves to the limit. Some truckers get delayed at a stop, or in traffic, and press to make up for the lost time, depriving themselves of needed sleep. All of these scenarios create the potential for a highway disaster.
The Dangers of Driver Fatigue
One of the most common causes of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Numerous studies have shown that sleep deprivation is responsible for as much as 50 percent of truck accidents. Although these studies have prompted stricter regulations, regarding how many hours that truckers can spend on the road, many companies and independent drivers have found ways to skirt these regulations.
Driving while fatigued is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated and is very similar in effect. Reaction times are slowed, and decision making abilities are impaired. A sleep deprived driver may get entranced, or lose consciousness completely, having no control of his multi-ton vehicle. A crash caused by an unconscious trucker is always going to be disastrous when other vehicles are involved. Multiple injuries and fatalities are common in these crashes. This was brought to the national spotlight in the recent New Jersey Turnpike crash involving a Wal-Mart driver who allegedly fell asleep and crashed his semi into a bus transporting comedian Tracy Morgan, leaving one man dead and three, including Morgan, in critical condition. This crash brought renewed scrutiny of the trucking industry. Federal regulations now limit the work day of truckers to 14 hours.
The new hourly regulations have removed the flexibility that enabled trucker to take a two or three hour break if needed and continue driving. Now they are forced to max out the 14 hours instead, according to members of the trucking industry. Their claim is that the regulations decreased the safety on the highways by preventing needed breaks.
Determining the Cause
Determining the real cause of a truck accident is a great deal more involved and difficult than determining the cause of a car crash; even when the apparent cause appears obvious. An experienced truck accident attorney is necessary to uncover the true facts in the case. It may be necessary to bring in an accident reconstruction team that utilizes special computer software to make an animated depiction of the crash.
The truck accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group have the resources available to thoroughly investigate any accident to determine where the negligence lies. They will carefully inspect the driver log and trace it back to actual times and locations. They will find witnesses and check driving records. Whatever it takes to bring accountability, it will be done.
If you or someone you care about was injured or killed in a truck accident, contact Dolman Law Group for a free consultation. There may be substantial compensation available to you.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765