Fatigue among long-haul commercial truck drivers has long been recognized as a threat to highway safety. Truckers’ long work hours disrupt normal sleep cycles and cause sleep deprivation and fatigue.

To combat the problem of drowsy driving truck accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently adopted new Hours of Service (HOS) rules limiting how many hours commercial truck drivers can remain behind the wheel without a break, and how long breaks must last. The new rules reduced truckers’ allowable workweek from 82 hours to 70. Most commercial truck drivers can drive no more than 11 hours at once and can only do so following 10 consecutive off-duty hours.

Unfortunately, truck drivers continue to drive while drowsy and in violation of HOS regulations. Fatigued driving crashes involving large trucks injure and kill people every year. The attorneys Burch, George & Germany, P.C., help victims of tractor-trailer accidents throughout all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. Those who have been hurt through no fault of their own can recover compensation for their medical expenses and other losses.

Drowsy Truck Drivers Continue to Violate Federal Safety Rules

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) has found in several studies that long-distance truck drivers routinely violate work rules. In interviews over three years, about 33 percent of truckers admitted to often or sometimes omitting hours behind the wheel from their logbooks, the IIHS says.

The new hours of service limits are project to prevent approximately 1,400 commercial truck crashes, 19 fatalities and 560 injuries each year. In Oklahoma, 33 people died in accidents involving large trucks in 2012.

Federal truck safety regulators are taking multiple steps to get drowsy drivers off the highways.

As an added safeguard to reduce hours-of-service violations, the FMCSA also is proposing to require truckers to use Electronic Logging Devices to record their work hours. The proposed rule, if adopted, would substantially reduce paperwork associated with hours of service recordkeeping for interstate truck and bus drivers. The electronic logs would make it more difficult for commercial drivers to misrepresent their time in logbooks and avoid detection for hours-of-service violations by FMCSA and law enforcement personnel, the FMCSA says.

The rule, which if approved would likely be implemented over several years, is intended to help reduce crashes by fatigued truck drivers and prevent approximately 20 fatalities and 434 injuries each year, according to the FMCSA.

In short, truck drivers continue to drive in violation of regulations designed to prevent fatigued / drowsy driving. This continues to cause crashes that injure and kill innocent people. Impaired driving, including fatigued driving, was listed as a contributing factor in more than 12 percent of the 129,120 total crashes that involved large trucks or buses in 2012, according to the FMCSA.

Fatigued truck drivers stay on the road when they should be resting for several reasons, including to:

  • Meet pickup and/or delivery deadlines. Some truckers have said they stay behind the wheel too long because of pressure from their employers.
  • Get through urban areas faster and avoid rush hour traffic.
  • Avoid impending bad weather.
  • Get home sooner.

Identifying Evidence of Fatigued Truck Driving

Drowsy driving may be one of several factors contributing to a truck accident. As Burch, George & Germany investigators pursue legal claims in trucking accidents, the possibility that the truck driver was fatigued is a primary consideration.

In addition to the driver’s logbook and any statements by the driver, his / her employer or others, we can obtain records with date, time and/or geographic information that indicate a driver’s activity. This may include:

  • Cellphone data
  • Credit / debit card or paper receipts
  • Security, intersection or toll booth camera footage showing the truck or the driver.

Data that can be downloaded from a commercial truck’s “black box” recorder will show the vehicle’s speed, braking and steering trajectory before a collision. A lack of braking, slowing or swerving prior to a collision is often an indication of drowsy or fatigued driving.

A trucker who drives in violation of HOS rules is acting illegally, and driving while drowsy is driving recklessly. If an HOS rule violation contributes to a truck accident that resulted in injury or death, the truck driver and the driver’s insurer may be held liable for the injury victim’s losses. If it can be shown that the driver’s employer encouraged driving in violation of HOS rules, the company itself may be liable for crash victims’ injuries and other losses.

Let Our Oklahoma Truck Accident Attorneys Help You

If you have been injured in a commercial truck accident, you may be eligible to obtain compensation for your medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering and/or long-term medical or disability issues. The truck accident lawyers of Burch, George & Germany, P.C., investigate accidents on behalf of the victims of serious truck crashes to help them obtain compensation.

Call us today or use our online contact form to contact an experienced Oklahoma trucking accident lawyer and learn more about seeking the compensation you deserve after a collision with a large commercial truck. We provide free consultations about potential claims.

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