Trucker Fatigue: Asleep at the Wheel

By November 13, 2014Trucking

The push for commercial truck drivers to prioritize productivity rather than employee safety has put drivers behind the wheel who are experiencing extreme fatigue and sleep-deprivation. Driving under these conditions creates hazardous driving conditions that could potentially harm the driver and other motorists on the road. Driving while fatigued and falling asleep at the wheel is the leading cause of commercial truck driving accidents despite new federal regulations designed to promote safer driving on roadways.

New Federal Regulations

In 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued safety regulations for implementation throughout the truck driving industry. Often, truck drivers are pressured to drive for long periods of time to maintain steady productivity. Low wages can also encourage drivers to stay on the road in order to accumulate hours for a better paycheck. The new regulations aim to decrease the traffic accidents involving fatigued drivers. These changes include:

  • Commercial truck drivers may not work more than 70 hours per week.
  • A 34-hour period of rest is required for truck drivers following a 70-hour work week, including sleep for maintaining good health.
  • For every 8 hours of work, the truck driver must take a 30-minute break from driving duties. This provides opportunities to break up long periods of driving and will decrease episodes of unfocused driving.

Legal Ramifications for Disregarding the Federal Regulations

Commercial truck driving companies and drivers will be penalized if driving expectations are not followed according to the safety regulations of 2013. Fines up to $11,000 for exceeding legal driving limits may be incurred. Specific drivers may be forced to pay over $2,000 in fines for repeated offenses.

When fatigued drivers get on the road, they pose significant risk to other vehicles. These trucks can weigh 80,000 pounds and could be carrying hazardous materials. If the driver exceeds the driving limits and falls asleep at the wheel, it could result in a catastrophic accident. In light of the new federal regulations, this behavior could be deemed negligent.

Legal Action

If a commercial truck is involved in a serious accident due to fatigue or falling asleep while driving, and the driver did not heed the new federal regulations, then legal action may be warranted. Victims of this type of accident could be eligible for compensation. The attorneys at Carey, Danis & Lowe are well-versed in commercial driving laws and are proficient in managing accident cases of this magnitude. Laws and regulations are designed to protect the general public, and if the driving industry chooses to disregard the duty to keep roadways safe, then Carey, Danis & Lowe will protect the rights of the victim. People have the right to expect other drivers to exercise caution and drive responsibly, particularly commercial truck drivers who receive special training in operating large vehicles. If an accident occurs with a commercial truck and it is possible that the driver was seriously fatigued, asleep upon impact or if the driver’s cooperation with federal regulations concerning driving limits needs to be investigated, contact Carey, Danis & Lowe today for a consultation. Call today or fill out a contact form for more information.

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