One of the most serious hazards that face everyone on Virginia’s roads is driver fatigue. When a driver who is exhausted gets behind the wheel of their vehicle, they not only put themselves at risk, but also endanger the lives of other commuters. Driver fatigue is an especially prevalent problem with commercial truck drivers and accidents caused by drowsy truck drivers are often even more catastrophic than car accidents given the massive size and weight of these vehicles.
The statistics for truck driver fatigue are alarming, with almost 15 percent of truck crashes that occur each year involving a truck driver suffering from fatigue. When this data is compared with the number of victims killed or injured each year – 4,000 and 100,000 respectively – it reveals that every year, truck driver fatigue is responsible for the deaths of at least 500 victims and the injuries of another 13,000, caused by a factor that is entirely avoidable.
Hours of Service Regulations
The rules regarding how many hours a commercial truck driver is allowed to operate their vehicle and how many hours of rest time and breaks they are required to take are regulated and enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These rules are referred to as Hours of Service (HOS). The current rules are:
- A truck driver is only permitted to work for up to 11 hours in a row.
- A truck driver is only permitted to drive for 11 consecutive hours immediately after at least 10 straight hours off duty.
- A truck driver is only allowed to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) if not more than eight hours have passed since they last had a break of at least 30 minutes.
- A truck driver is not permitted to drive a CMV after they have been on duty for 60 hours in a seven-day time span or 70 hours on duty in an eight-day time span. They may begin working again after 34 straight hours of being off duty.
While the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have resulted in less traffic overall, it has also resulted in a sharp increase in the amount of online ordering people are doing. This means more shipping and more delivery, requiring more truck drivers on the road. But there is also currently a shortage of qualified truck drivers, which means more truck drivers under pressure by trucking companies to ignore hours of service regulations in order to meet almost-impossible delivery schedules. This puts us all at risk of being seriously injured in a truck crash.
Contact a Virginia Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a tractor-trailer crash, contact a skilled Virginia truck accident attorney to find out what your legal options may be against the at-fault party or parties responsible for the accident. Truck accidents often involve claims against multiple parties and can be more complex than other types of vehicle accident claims. The legal team from Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn has successfully represented many clients who were truck accident victims and will aggressively fight to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 800-752-0042 for a free case evaluation.