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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 fatality.

There are two major contributors to the truck driver fatigue:

  • Unrealistic scheduling by the drivers agencies or companies
  • Greed

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.

FMCSA Regulations

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.

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