Fatigued Truck Driver Accidents

Truck driver fatigue causes as many as 13% of all large truck accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

These accidents can all be prevented by following state and federal regulations and avoiding driving while tired. When a fatigued truck crash happens, the driver and other parties are at fault. You shouldn’t be on the hook for the damages they cause. An Ohio truck accident lawyer can help you get the compensation you need to move forward.

Call Victor Kademenos at Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA at 419-625-7770 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation of your case.

Federal Trucking Regulations on Fatigued Driving

Truckers often drive after little sleep or poor-quality rest. The long hours they work can easily result in accidents. There are federal regulations in place that attempt to prevent these situations.

Regulations for Truckers Carrying Property

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enforces federal hours-of-service regulations. They indicate the following regarding semi-truck drivers that carry property (as opposed to passengers):

  • They may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • They may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Additionally, off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
  • They must take an uninterrupted 30-minute break after eight cumulative hours of driving.
  • They may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.
  • They may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
  • They may split their required 10-hour off-duty period as long as it is at least two hours long and the other seven consecutive hours are spent in the sleeper area of the truck.
  • They are allowed to extend driving periods by up to two hours when adverse driving conditions are encountered.

There are some exceptions for short-haul drivers who operate within a 150 air-mile radius of their regular work reporting location.

Regulations for Truckers Carrying Passengers

There are different regulations for large vehicle drivers who carry passengers. For example, passenger-carrying drivers must abide by the following:

  • They may drive a maximum of 10 hours after eight consecutive hours off duty.
  • They may not drive after being on duty for 15 hours, following eight consecutive hours off duty.
  • They may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.
  • They must spend at least eight hours in a sleeper area, which may be split.
  • Their maximum driving time may be extended by up to two hours when driving in adverse conditions.

Short-haul exemptions exist for passenger vehicle drivers, and they are like those of property truck drivers.

How We Prove Driver Fatigue

When fatigue is the reason a truck driver hits you, there are a few ways your attorney can prove this claim.

Examining Records

Your lawyer can review the truck driver’s service hour records, which must be digitally recorded in most states. This will be cross-referenced with the following:

  • Miles drove on the truck
  • GPS data
  • Pay provided to the driver
  • The black box in the truck that records most events in the big rig

Interviewing Witnesses

Your attorney will also interview the truck driver and other witnesses. If anyone, including the driver, truck dispatcher, passengers, or others, admits that the driver exceeded service hour regulations, they may be found to be negligent.

How Does Fatigue Affect Truck Drivers?

Driving while tired can be just as dangerous as drunk driving, according to the CDC. In fact, after 17 hours of being awake, a person experiences impairment that is equivalent to having a blood alcohol content of .05.

After 24 hours of being awake, impairment may be as bad as a BAC of .10, which is way over the legal limit in most states. Other adverse effects of fatigued driving include:

  • Slower than usual or delayed reactions
  • Poor decision making
  • “Tunnel vision,” or the loss in your sense of what’s going on in the periphery around you
  • Microsleeps, or brief episodes of sleeping that last from a few seconds up to 30 seconds
  • Fatigued drivers often forget portions of drive time