Are Fatigued Truckers Behind a National Rise in Truck Accidents?

Rules that limit the number of hours truck drivers are allowed to work per week may be rolled back by Congress as part of a budget deal to fund the US government through next year. In 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration adopted the “hours-of-service” guidelines, which reduced the number of hours truck drivers could operate from 82 to 70 hours.

Current rules allow truck drivers to work 14 hours a day and drive for 11. Under the hours-of-service rule, if a truck driver works 70 hours in a week, he or she must rest for 34 consecutive hours before starting a new week.

One group, Advocates for Highway Auto Safety, is speaking out against the possible rollback by calling it an appalling political bargain with life and death consequences. The American Trucking Association (ATA) defended the idea of a rollback, and argued that it was close to impossible to hit the 82-hour mark due to logistical constraints. Driver logs of 40,000 truck drivers released by the ATA show an average driving time of 52 hours per week.

How Dangerous is Trucker Fatigue?

Trucker fatigue was in the news earlier this summer when a Wal-Mart truck driver that had been awake for more than 24 hours hit comedian Tracy Morgan, causing a severe traumatic brain injury. Morgan’s case is a common scenario, and other stories show that it is difficult to survive a truck accident.

In 2010, a truck driver fell asleep while driving a route through Oklahoma, killing 10 other motorists. Truck accident deaths continue to rise. In 2012, there were 3,912 deaths from truck accidents, an increase from the 3,757 deaths in 2011.

According to the US Department of Transportation (DOT), trucker fatigue is the cause of 13 percent of trucking accidents, but also might be underreported, as truck drivers may not want to acknowledge they fell asleep behind the wheel. An earlier study from 1990 showed that trucker fatigue caused one third of all truck accidents.

More than 30,000 people die on US highways every year, and truck accidents account for one in seven fatalities. Research completed by the US DOT has shown that fatigued drivers are more likely to have lapses in attention and lane deviations.

Truck Accidents Can Ruin Lives

Semi-trucks can weigh 10,000-80,000 pounds and travel at speeds over 40 miles per hour. Truck accidents can leave survivors with serious injuries that include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and burns. Health care costs and lost income from injuries sustained during a truck accident can cost millions.

If you have been in a truck accident, you may be able to receive compensation. Hiring an attorney can help you preserve evidence that motor carriers may attempt to conceal.

Spevack Law Firm has decades of experience representing accident victims and helping them receive compensation. You can count on us to fight for you. To find out more about our firm, please visit our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Spevack Law Firm – Middlesex County Personal Injury Attorneys

Did You Know? The hours-of-service rule was originally estimated to prevent 1,400 crashes, 560 injuries and 19 deaths each year.