Contact us today to schedule a free initial confidential consultation: (302) 777-1000

Driver Fatigue – a Common Cause of Truck Accidents

In response to increased concerns about the number of hours commercial truck drivers spend on the road, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently enacted new regulations designed to reduce the likelihood of accidents stemming from driver fatigue. On July 1, 2013, new standards went into effect, limiting drivers to 70 hours per week behind the wheel, and mandating at least 34 hours off when truckers reach the 70 hour maximum. The new regulations retain prior rules that limit a driver to 11 consecutive hours after a 10 hour break, and no more than 11 total hours over a 14 hour consecutive period. Drivers must also take a 30 minute break at some point during the first 8 hours on the road.

Truck Drivers Going Without Rest

There are a variety of reasons that truckers operate big rigs, 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers without the necessary rest. Most are compensated by the number of miles they drive, providing an incentive to log as many as possible. Many trucking companies have tight deadlines, and do not monitor drivers to make certain logs are accurate, and drivers are not exceeding federal limits. Sometimes it can be as simple as wanting to get home, or trying to avoid bad weather.

The statistics are pretty clear, though. About one in every 8 commercial truck accidents involves driver fatigue. In an FMCSA study, about 7% of drivers who had been in accidents admitted to falling asleep while driving. Another 40% said they felt some level of fatigue at the time of the crash.

Studies show that driver fatigue dramatically slows down reaction time, a significantly greater risk when you are hauling 80,000 pounds of goods. Researchers also determined that drivers who suffered from fatigue made frequent judgment errors, including changing lanes without looking, accelerating instead of braking, and exceeding the speed limit.

Contact Attorney Michael J. Hood

To arrange a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.