Truck Driver Fatigue
Truck driver fatigue is one of the leading reasons for trucking
accidents. FMCSA analysis division found that driver fatigue accounts
for something like 8 percent of all fatal truck crashes, and for 16
percent of all truck crashes regardless of whether they result in a
There are two major contributors to the truck driver fatigue.
- Unrealistic scheduling by the drivers agencies or companies
There are rules are regulations that govern the maximum time the
truck driver can drive, the time they should rest (their time off) etc.
Many truck drivers completely ignore these rules, they continue to
drive beyond the maximum time, some even falsify their time off
records. Some may engage themselves in strenuous activities during
their time off. Trucking companies expect the drivers to adhere to
unrealistic schedule to maximize profitability and also to stay
competitive by keeping the costs lower. These grueling schedules many
times keep the driver on road behind the wheel, even when the driver is
tired and is suffering from fatigue. The other contributor is the
fatigue is driver's greed. The drivers compensation depends on the
distance covered (pay per mile) and/or the delivery of load. The
drivers can make more money if they drive longer. Some drivers get
greedy and stay on the road much longer than they should. They
completely ignore the signs of fatigue. This often times is an open
invitation to an accident. Sometimes drivers are required to help in
loading the truck, van or trailer. Some drivers do this to make some
extra money (sometimes loading pay is separate). Loading or assisting
in loading the truck, van or trailer makes the driver tired and
fatigued. If the driver gets behind wheels in such state of fatigue it
is like an accident about to happen. If you have been injured due to
truck driver fatigue, contact us for a free consultation to discuss
your case with an expert.
Unrealistic scheduling by the agencies or companies that supply the
drivers, and truck driver greed are two factors that contribute to the
high number of truck driver fatigue trucking accidents in California.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes rules and regulations
which govern commercial motor vehicles and the companies who operate
these vehicles. Their stated purpose is to attempt to make the
interstate highways safer. Since 1939, Federal law has placed
restrictions on the "hours of service" that a trucker may operate his
truck. Changes have been made to these rules recently for the first
time in over 60 years. These rules are designed to promote safety by
helping to ensure that truck drivers are getting the needed rest to
operate their big rigs safely.
In January 2004, FMCSA implemented new hours-of-service regulations
for truck drivers, increasing the required daily off-duty period but
also increasing daily and weekly allowable driving times. Under the new
rules, interstate commercial truck drivers are not allowed to drive
more than 11 hours or drive after 14 hours since starting a duty shift
until they have a 10-hour break. Drivers cannot drive after accruing 60
work hours during a 7-day period or 70 work hours during an 8-day
period, but a "restart" provision allows truckers to get back behind
the wheel after 34 hours off duty. Using this provision, a driver may
log up to 77 hours in 7 days or 88 hours in 8 days.
Further modifications to the work rules took effect October 1, 2005.
These revisions provide that drivers who use sleeper berths in their
trucks may split the required 10-hour daily off-duty period into a
period of 8 hours and a period of 2 hours. Short-haul truckers also now
may extend their work day twice a week, and these drivers are exempt
from a requirement to carry a logbook of their hours of work.
Although there are rules and regulations
governing the length of time a truck driver can drive, many drivers
ignore these rules, or engage in other strenuous activities during
their "time off" the road. Current regulations allow truck drivers to
record their hours in written logbooks that are reviewed by inspectors.
Studies of long-distance truck drivers have found that work rules
commonly are violated. Some truck drivers refer to logbooks as "comic
books" because they are so easily falsified. Onboard computers reduce
opportunities for violating the rules because they automatically record
when a truck is driven and its speed. Europe has required mechanical
(nonelectronic) tachographs, designed to record vehicle travel hours,
for about 30 years. Mechanical tachographs can be falsified more easily
than onboard computers, so as of January 2006, new trucks and intercity
buses registered in the European Union must be equipped with electronic
recording devices. The Institute and five other organizations
petitioned the US Department of Transportation to require the
installation and use of tamper-resistant electronic onboard computers
on commercial vehicles whose drivers now are required to maintain
written logbooks. The National Transportation Safety Board also has
repeatedly recommended that such recorders be mandated. In 2000, FMCSA
published a proposal to require these devices but dropped the proposal
from the work-hour rules that took effect January 2004.
Truck drivers are expected to adhere to extracting schedules in
order to make trucking companies more profitable and competitive. These
tough schedules can sometimes keep a driver on the road, even though
the driver is tired and suffering from fatigue. In addition, truck
driver greed also can play a role. Truck drivers are compensated by the
mile and/or by delivering a load. The more the driver drives, the more
the driver can make. Some drivers get greedy, and want to increase
their pay by driving more than they should. In addition, sometimes a
driver will load (or assist in loading) the truck, van, or trailer,
either because they are required, or in order to make more money
(sometimes loading pay is separate). After the driver has loaded (or
helped load) the truck, they get on the road, tired and fatigued. This
is an accident just waiting to happen.
If you have been injured due to truck driver fatigue,
contact us. We offer free consultation, contact us and use our
expertise to represent your legal interests. We will assist you in
obtaining the compensation you deserve.