One of the key causes associated with commercial truck accidents lawsuits in Alabama involves truck driver fatigue. In fact, truck driver fatigue accounts for a large percentage of all commercial truck accidents.
Commercial Truck Accidents – Contributing Factors
The high rate of truck driver fatigue accidents is believed to be associated with the longer working hours, stressful deadlines, and rigorous schedules. Drivers are often compelled to keep to these schedules despite the tie to impaired judgment and risks for dangerous, deadly accidents.
Fatigue involves exhaustion, sleep deprivation, alcohol use by truck drivers and severe tiredness and may be a combination of all three. Fatigue may also impair one’s ability to determine one’s own fatigue and may lead to falling asleep while driving, which may lead to catastrophic collisions. Meanwhile, the average salary for a truck driver is not considered high, which may be why it is not uncommon to hear of truck drivers operating a truck for stretches of time over 12 consecutive hours while also clocking in in excess of 16 hours at work, a practice that leads to driver fatigue.
The federal government has finally changed truck driver rules and duty hours after some six decades and has made it illegal for truck drivers to drive a commercial truck for more than 11 straight hours without taking a 10-hour break between two shifts in which the employee will be driving. Individuals operating commercial trucks are not permitted to work more than 14 hours and only 11 of these hours may be spent driving. In any seven-day stretch of time, a driver may drive no more than 60-to-77 hours; up to 70-88 hours in a consecutive eight-day stretch. Should a driver take off from work for two and one-half days, that driver may start a new workweek at zero hours.
Trucking Companies Not Complying with Federal Requirements
Despite the federal mandates put in place to help reduce driver fatigue and related commercial trucking accidents, full compliance by trucking companies and their drivers has not been consistently achieved. This includes the mandatory maintenance of a log book of driving hours commercial truck drivers must maintain. Logs may be falsified and are not always a true measure of how many hours any given truck driver spends driving; however, a review of trip tickets and bills of lading from a driver’s deliveries in the days prior to the crash may provide a more accurate view of actual hours spent on the road, as these contain third-party time stamps.
Often, the need to make more money may induce commercial truck drivers to drive in excess of the allowable on-road hours as may be the need to meet very tight delivery deadlines and drivers being ordered to continue driving by their trucking company. All of these negligent truck driver practices may lead to driver fatigue, which may cause drivers to fall asleep while driving in Birmingham, Alabama, to experience hallucinations, and to suffer from reduced mental capacity and inattentiveness, making large truck accidents a significantly avoidable tragedy. Should a trucking company permit falsified logs, that company exposes itself to liability.
According to Safe Road, truck collisions lead to 5,000 fatalities and nearly 150,000 injuries, annually, on nationwide roads and about one in four passenger vehicle fatalities in multi-vehicle accidents involve a commercial truck.According to the National Highway Transportation Authority (NHTSA) a contributing factor in 30-40 percent of commercial trucking accidents involved truck driver fatigue. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) found that working long hours significantly increases risks for performance errors and impairs a driver’s ability to obtain appropriate restorative sleep, even with proper off-duty sleep time.
Contact Farris, Riley & Pitt Today
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a collision that involved a large truck and truck driver fatigue may be a factor, contact our Large Truck Accident Attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt.