One of the most common causes, if not the most common cause, of trucking accidents is sleep deprivation or drowsy driving. Truckers are under pressure to avoid traffic and make their deliveries on time. Truckers can also face financial pressures, which encourages them to make more deliveries with less rest in order to make more money.
It is no secret that larger vehicles, such as 80,000 pound big rigs, often lead to greater destruction and injury when involved in accidents. In an effort to reduce truck accidents and to keep the roads safer, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has enacted regulations which trucking companies and truck drivers are to follow. Federal regulations require drivers of large trucks to keep logs of the hours worked, called hours of service, and breaks and rest periods taken, and places limits on the number of hours they can drive. The driver of a commercial truck is limited to working no longer than 14 hours and may drive for only 11 of those hours. Additionally, the driver must take a 10 hour break before driving again. Drivers may falsify their logs in order to cover more distance each day, which in turn leads to better pay. Some trucking companies turn a blind eye to this as it means greater profits for the trucking company.
Studies have shown that fatigue can potentially be as dangerous as drinking and driving. Without proper rest and a break from the constant action of driving, a person’s body can begin to shut down and cause various effects that make them no longer suitable to operate any vehicle, let alone a large truck. When a person drinks alcohol, they can begin to lose capabilities of judgment, reaction, perception and more. This is also true with sleep deprivation and these outcomes can be intensified when a driver is alone and staring at the road ahead. While driver fatigue is a cause for concern amongst all drivers, the long hours worked by truck drivers and their time spent on the road can put them at a particularly increased risk.
When involved in a truck accident, it is necessary to thoroughly inspect the driver’s log. Unfortunately, if the trucking company is not contacted soon after the crash, the logs and records may be lost, destroyed or misplaced. This is it why it is so important for victims to move quickly and seek help. Seek an experienced attorney who is familiar with the federal regulations and will act in your best interests to provide you with the compensation you deserve.