Truck AccidentThe Dangers of Truck Driver Fatigue: Holding Trucking Companies Accountable for Overworked Drivers

July 2, 20240

Operating a large commercial truck requires skill, experience, and complete attentiveness. Truck drivers spend long hours on the road each day, often driving overnight to transport goods across the country. While trucking companies prioritize efficiency and profits, they sometimes overlook the safety needs of their drivers. When truckers are pushed to meet unreasonable delivery timelines, driver fatigue becomes a serious risk. Drowsy or distracted truck drivers put everyone on the road in danger.

Trucking companies must make driver health and safety a top priority. With stronger regulations and accountability measures, the trucking industry can prevent fatigued driving and improve road safety. This article will examine the dangers of exhausted truckers, highlight federal rest regulations, and discuss legal options for holding trucking companies liable when their negligent policies result in crashes.

The Risks of Drowsy Driving

Operating a 40-ton commercial truck while fatigued is extremely hazardous. Drowsy driving greatly impairs motor skills, reaction time, and judgment. Exhausted truck drivers may have slow reflexes, reduced situational awareness, and trouble concentrating on the road. As a result, the chances of a serious crash rise exponentially.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that driver fatigue contributes to approximately 13% of all large truck crashes annually. Drowsy driving is especially dangerous because truck drivers often transport flammable materials, chemicals, and other hazardous cargo. When an overly tired trucker loses control, the consequences can be catastrophic. A fatigued big rig driver may endanger dozens of innocent motorists. Trucking companies must implement safety practices to prevent overtired truckers from getting behind the wheel.

Federal Regulations on Rest Requirements

To improve road safety, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates how many hours commercial truckers can drive. Under FMCSA Hours of Service rules, truck drivers have a daily driving limit of 11 hours. After driving for 11 hours, they must rest for 10 consecutive hours before the duty period resets.

In addition, drivers may not exceed:

  • 14 hours of total on-duty time per day
  • 60 hours of on-duty time over 7 consecutive days
  • 70 hours of on-duty time over 8 consecutive days

Off-duty rest periods allow truckers to recover from mental and physical fatigue. Sufficient sleep and break time is essential for maintaining the alertness necessary to operate an 80,000-pound truck.

When trucking companies violate federal Hours of Service laws by coercing drivers to work excessive shifts, public safety suffers. Drowsy truckers have slower reaction times than drivers with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit. Trucking firms must schedule reasonable driving hours, perform Fatigue Management Training, and provide adequate sleeping accommodations during long hauls.

Legal Options for Fatigued Driving Accidents

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a truck crash caused by a drowsy driver, you may have grounds to pursue legal action against the trucking company. An experienced truck accident attorney can investigate the firm’s driving schedules, safety protocols, and training procedures. Trucking companies often push drivers to meet unrealistic deadlines, leading to hazardous fatigued driving.

When trucking firms prioritize profits over safety, innocent motorists pay the price. Companies can and should be held accountable. Some legal options for truck crash victims include:

Negligent Hiring:

Trucking companies must thoroughly vet drivers before hiring them. Failing to screen for substance abuse issues, health problems, or poor driving records is negligent hiring. This makes the company liable if the unfit driver then causes an accident.

Vicarious Liability:

Under vicarious liability laws, employers are responsible for accidents caused by their employees during working hours. Trucking firms must answer for crashes their overtired drivers cause.

Respondent Superior:

This concept holds employers responsible for employee actions taken within the scope of their duties. So, if a trucker dozes off after being pressured to drive excessive hours, the trucking company is liable.

Punitive Damages:

If a trucking firm exhibits egregious disregard for laws and safety, punitive damages may be awarded. These additional penalties punish and deter negligence.

By pursuing a case against a reckless trucking company, crash victims can recover damages, force positive policy changes, and help prevent future accidents.

Stay Safe: Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyers Today

Drowsy truckers endanger everyone with whom they share the road. Trucking companies have a duty to implement responsible scheduling, train drivers to recognize fatigue warning signs, and provide sufficient sleeping berths. If a truck crash has impacted you or your family, contact our experienced attorneys right away. We have a proven record of holding firms accountable and securing maximum compensation for clients.

Visit our office at 700 Bishop St, Ste 2100, Honolulu, HI, 96813.

Or call us today for a free consultation on (808) 745-1592.

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