Truck Driver Fatigue

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Truckers provide a necessary and helpful service. They transport livestock, oil and gas, and other goods to be used to make other items or sold as is. However, as important as truckers are to our economy, they can also put other people’s lives at risk if they are careless or reckless. Truck drivers operate large and heavy machines that have the potential to catastrophically hurt or kill pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists.

If you are now facing a long, tough road to recovery because of being involved in a truck crash that may have been caused by truck driver fatigue, contact our experienced personal injury lawyers at Studinski Law, LLC. Call us today at (715) 343-2850.

Fatigued Driving Statistics

Drowsy driving is a common cause of auto accidents across the nation. Previous studies by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety found approximately 7 percent of all crashes and 21 percent of fatal crashes involved fatigued drivers. AAA conducted a study to determine how much the rate of a crash increased when drivers got less sleep than they should.

Compared to drivers who slept at least seven hours within the past 24 hours, AAA found drivers who slept:

  • Six to seven hours had a 1.3 times higher crash rate
  • Five to six hours had a 1.9 times higher crash rate
  • Four to five hours had a 4.3 times higher crash rate
  • Fewer than four hours had an 11.5 times higher crash rate

The study shows just how much sleep truly matters.

Common Truck Accidents Due to Driver Fatigue

When a person is driving while overly tired, they are more likely to:

  • Fall asleep behind the wheel
  • Fail to keep a proper lookout
  • Fail to check blind spots
  • Improperly or hazardously merge
  • Improperly brake
  • React too slowly
  • Drive over the lines or onto the shoulder

All of these actions can cause a single-truck accident or a multi-vehicle collisions. Also, since fatigue was a main cause of the crash, the trucker is unlikely to have taken steps to mitigate the extent of the accident or the damages. For instance, the trucker may not have been able to slow down before the crash to cause less property damage and fewer injuries. Drowsy driving can lead to accidents at full speed, resulting in significant and catastrophic injuries and fatalities.

Causes of Truck Driver Fatigue

Drivers are at risk for getting behind the wheel while overly tired for a number of reasons. However, one of the most common causes of truck driver fatigue is continuously driving too long without sleep. Many truckers push themselves and do not take breaks as often as they should. They may also feel pressure from their employers and clients to get to their destinations as quickly as possible. When truckers fail to abide by federal hours of service regulations or do not take breaks when they get drowsy, they significantly increase the likelihood of a fatigue-related accident.

Another reason for drowsy driving is operating the truck after drinking alcohol or taking drugs like marijuana. If a trucker indulges in a few drinks before getting back on the road, it is likely that the alcohol could make them feel sleepy and less alert.

Trucker Hours of Service Regulations

The purpose of the hours of service regulations implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is to ensure truckers are not on duty for an unsafe period of time. If truckers adhere to hours of service rules, this is a major step toward avoiding fatigued driving.

According to the FMCSA, there is an 11-hour driving limit for property-carrying drivers. Truckers who do not have passengers may drive up to 11 hours after having 10 consecutive hours off. However, there is a total 14-hour limit. Truckers cannot drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after starting a shift, after having had 10 consecutive hours off. The truckers off-duty times, meaning their breaks, do not extend the 14-hour limitation. Consequently, truckers are entitled to drive up to 11 hours within a 14-hour period.

Additionally, truckers have to take periodic breaks. A trucker can continue to drive only if it has been 8 hours or less since the end of their last off-duty or sleep period that lasted at least 30 minutes.

How much a trucker drives within a day is important. However, truckers also become tired throughout the week, particularly if they are consistently being overworked. That is why the FMCSA has a 60/70-hour limit. Truckers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver can only restart another 7/8 consecutive work period after taking off at least 34 consecutive hours.

Call Our Wisconsin Truck Accident Lawyers Today

If you were injured in a truck accident and you believe the trucker caused the crash because of being fatigued, contact us immediately. Our experienced truck accident attorneys at Studinski Law, LLC are ready to conduct an in-depth investigation into your crash. We will strive to find the underlying cause of the accident and gather evidence of the trucker’s fatigue and negligence. With this evidence in hand, we will strive to obtain you the maximum compensation for your:

  • Medical expenses
  • Wage loss
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Loss of society and companionship
  • Property damage, when applicable

To learn more about pursing a personal injury claim after a truck accident, call us at (715) 343-2850.

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