How Driver Fatigue Leads to Legal Liability in Truck Accidents

Fatigued Drivers are Negligent

Statistics show that about 20,000 people are injured annually in the United States by fatigued truck drivers. Figures also indicate that about 600 commercial truck drivers lose their lives annually in such accidents across the country. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has declared that more than 50 percent of the accidents involving big rigs and diesel trucks are an offshoot of driver fatigue and sleepiness. Being on the road for hours and days on end while manipulating a heavy vehicle can be tedious for even the most experienced commercial drivers. Many such drivers opt for longer hauls or shifts because that invites a heftier paycheck.

Ignoring the Regulations

This often leads to sleep deprivation and can result in the driver dozing off at the wheel or drifting into oncoming or parallel traffic. Collisions involving 18-wheel rigs are rarely minor mishaps and usually involve multiple vehicles. There are federal stipulations in place which specify the number of hours a truck driver may work at a stretch. But many drivers choose to ignore these regulations in an effort to meet deadlines or to supplement their income. They do not understand that fatigue can dull the reflexes and make them a danger to other motorists. In the event of an accident, a lawsuit may be filed against the driver as well as the organization that employs him.

Checking the Logs

The insurance company may also be named as a defendant in some cases. If found accountable, the trucking company may have to pay compensation to the victim(s). Experienced lawyers will be aware of the fact that commercial truck drivers need to log in their hours of work and rest meticulously; manually as well as electronically. Though the handwritten logs may be easily manipulated, this is not the case with the electronic logs. Comparing data from both sources can help an acute lawyer build a concrete case.

Truck Driving Tenets

Drivers on long hauls are advised to avoid driving between 2 and 6 am, since this is prime sleep hours. But this is also when there are less people on the road and highways and they can make good time without being surrounded by other vehicles. Driving in an upright position instead of slouching can keep a driver more alert. If a truck driver begins to feel tired or sleepy they must pull over and rest. Taking a break every couple of hours enables a truck driver to maintain alertness. A truck driver needs to pay attention to what the side effects of any medication they take will have on them.

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