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Are Crashes Caused by Truck Driver Fatigue Preventable?

Posted On January 24, 2017 In Truck Accidents

Truck driver fatigue is a contributor to accidentsThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) considers fatigued driving a major cause of truck crashes. Truckers may feel pressured to meet tight deadlines, and push themselves past their limits. In other cases, drivers may suffer from health conditions like sleep apnea, which causes excessive daytime fatigue. These factors do not excuse truck drivers or commercial carriers from being held liable when they cause crashes. If truckers are following hours of service rules, they can reduce the chances of causing a crash. Sleep apnea can be screened for and is treatable. In many cases, crashes caused by truck driver fatigue are preventable.

How Do Hours of Service Rules Prevent Truck Crashes?

Hours of service rules dictate how long truckers can drive. Interstate drivers operating property-carrying trucks weighing 10,001 or more pounds must follow these rules:

  • Truckers cannot drive after 14 hours of coming on duty. For example, if a truck driver comes on duty at 8 am, they cannot drive after 10 pm. There are minor exceptions to this rule.
  • Truckers cannot drive for more than 11 hours within the 14 hours after they came on duty. There are also very limited exceptions to this rule.
  • After driving for eight consecutive hours, truckers must take a 30-minute resting period.

Drivers record hours of service compliance in their logbooks. These logbooks should show time spent driving and time spent in the sleeper birth. Depending on the commercial carrier, drivers may use electronic logs to record hours of service compliance.

How Else Can Fatigued Drivers Cause Truck Crashes?

Truckers can follow hours of service rules and still cause accidents, especially if they have sleep apnea. This health condition causes an interruption in a person’s breathing while they are sleeping. People who suffer from sleep apnea may wake up repeatedly throughout the night. They often experience daytime drowsiness and problems paying attention.

Research has found a link between sleep apnea and truck accidents. A study published by the Harvard School of Public Health found drivers with sleep apnea are five times more likely to crash. An estimated 20 percent of commercial truck drivers suffer from the condition.

Commercial carriers can screen drivers for sleep apnea. Drivers with this condition can undergo treatment so they can return to their jobs.

How Can an Attorney Prove Fault in a Fatigued Driving Crash?

Depending on the circumstances, truckers and commercial carriers can be held liable for causing fatigued driving crashes. Driver records and logbooks are useful evidence for truck accident cases. There also may be records showing a commercial carrier knew a driver responsible for a wreck had a condition like sleep apnea. These are only two small examples, and there are many possibilities depending on the circumstances.

The Texas truck accident attorneys at Mike Love & Associates, LLC can help victims of fatigued driving accidents hold truckers and commercial carriers accountable.

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