Driver Fatigue Leading Cause of Commercial Truck Crashes | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

With more than 15 million commercial trucks traveling U.S. roads, it is no surprise the number of deadly truck accidents that occur each year. According to national statistics, there has been a 20 percent increase in the number of truck accidents over the past 10 years. Many of these crashes are caused by some negligent behavior or actions on the part of the truck driver.

Truck driver fatigue is quickly becoming one of the leading causes of truck accidents in this country despite the limits that are placed on how many hours truck drivers are allowed to operate on the roads.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the government agency that regulates commercial carriers and they have set stringent driving restrictions in order to help combat driver fatigue.




Rest Requirements

Per the driving regulations set by the FMCSA, if a truck driver is scheduled to work a 14-hour day, then they are only allowed to drive for a maximum of 11 hours. When the driver hits the 11-hour mark, they are required to rest a minimum of 10 hours before they can get back behind the wheel of the truck.

The FMSCA also prohibits truck drivers from driving more than 60 hours total in a seven-day period or a more than 70 hours total within an eight-day period. Once the truck driver has worked a seven- or eight-day work period, they are required to take 34 hours off before they can start working again.

In addition to the maximum number of hours they can work, drivers are also required to take breaks after so many hours of driving. These regulations have all been put in place to help ensure a driver has adequate rest so they do not suffer periods of drowsiness behind the wheel, putting themselves and other commuters as serious risk of harm.

Tracking Truckers’ Hours

The FMSCA also requires all truck drivers to keep a log of the number of hours they spend on the road, as well as his or her rest periods. These logs were historically handwritten, however, more and more trucking companies are turning to electronic logs. Unfortunately, many trucking companies place pressure on drivers to meet unreasonable delivery schedules which often results in drivers traveling more than the allowed time. This can lead to false entries in log books to hide the fact a driver is in violation of regulations, however, the electronic logs are more difficult to alter.

If a driver is found to be in violation of rest requirements, the FMSCA will likely impose serious penalties. Not only will they be required to pull their rig over and stay off the road until they are compliant with the rest time requirement, they also face a fine of between $1,000 and $11,000. Failure to follow the regulations for driver rest can also be the basis for a claim for damages by an injured victim, including punitive damages.

Contact a Virginia Truck Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in any type of truck accident, contact a Virginia truck accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have. Truck accident cases can be complex and it is not uncommon for there to be multiple at-fault parties who are responsible for the payment of financial damages you may be entitled to for your injuries. Our personal injury firm has successfully represented many injured victims and their families and we are happy to meet with you and offer legal guidance on what the best options may be for your circumstances.