Truck driver fatigue is a problem running rampant on America’s roads and highways. The problem is contributing to hundreds of accidents each year. This has been an area of concern for over a decade, and many studies have been conducted as well as many regulations implemented to combat this growing problem. Still, truckers falling asleep at the wheel contributes to many accidents. If this describes the accident you were involved in, please consider speaking with a Las Vegas truck accident attorney at our firm to discuss your legal options.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted a study between the years 1994 and 1998. Some of the key findings are listed below:
-Driver alertness and performance were more consistently related to time-of-day than to time-on-task. Drowsiness episodes were 8 times more likely between midnight and 6 a.m. than during other times.
-During their daily main sleep period, drivers slept for only about 5 hours, which was 2 hours less sleep than their “ideal” requirement of slightly over 7 hours.
-Drivers’ stated self-assessments of their levels of alertness do not correlate well with objective measures of performance. Drivers were not very good at assessing their own levels of alertness.
-There were significant individual differences among drivers in levels of alertness and performance.
One of a truck driver’s main concerns is to get their cargo to its destination on time. Sometimes, the driver believes that this means sacrificing mandating sleep and resting breaks.
To assist in combatting the problem of truck driver fatigue-related accidents, the FMCSA implemented Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. These rules have been in place for years, but were recently updated to become stricter as of 2012. These new rules even changed the definition of “on-duty” time. Before, on-duty time included any time spent in the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with the exception of the sleeper berth. Now, on-duty time does not include time spent resting in a vehicle that is parked. There are distinctions on maximum hours and mandated resting breaks for property-carrying trucks and passenger-carrying trucks.
Some of the HOS regulations for property-carrying CMVs are as follows:
11-Hour Driving Limit: May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
14-Hour Limit: May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
60/70-Hour On-Duty Limit: May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
After an accident of this magnitude, the Department of Transportation (DOT) or the FMCSA will investigate in order to ascertain the actual cause of the accident. One thing that investigators will check is the trucker’s logbook. If the logbook shows that the trucker did not comply with HOS regulations, then this may be taken into consideration when determining cause and liability.
A fully-loaded CMV can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. In the event that one of these trucks is involved in an accident with a passenger vehicle, the results can be catastrophic. Contact a Las Vegas truck accident lawyer at Shook & Stone to discuss your legal options. If an investigation shows that the trucker fell asleep at the wheel, then you could potentially recover financial compensation for your injuries and even pain and suffering. For a free consultation, call our firm today.