Truck Driver Fatigue

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), driver fatigue is a significant cause of truck accidents. Driver fatigue can lead to drivers falling asleep or taking unnecessary risks and can often lead to accidents. Fatigue can be caused by trucking companies with unrealistic expectations and schedules that expect drivers to hurry despite the risks involved.

FMCSA Regulations

The FMCSA limits the number of hours that drivers of large trucks and tractor trailers are allowed to drive in a given day. Drivers may only drive 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours of being off duty. This 11 hours must take place during the 14 consecutive hours after the 10-hour break. For example, if a driver begins driving at 6 a.m., he must complete his 11 hours of driving before 8 p.m. that night when his next 10 hours of off-duty time must begin. FMSCA also requires that drivers take a 30-minute break after 8 consecutive hours of driving. Drivers are also limited to drive 60/70 hours in a 7/8 day period. This known as the weekly limit and depends on whether the driver works on a 7-day or 8-day schedule. Truck drivers are required to keep records of when they are on and off duty.

Purpose of Limiting Driving Hours

The purpose of the FMCSA hours of service regulations is to eliminate the type of drowsiness and fatigue that can lead to severe accidents. Driver fatigue can result in slow reaction times, inability to recognize hazards on the road, and even drivers falling asleep at the wheel. A driver’s ability to assess whether they are capable of driving is also impaired so a drowsy driver may not realize the need to pull over until it is too late.

The Responsibility of Trucking Companies

Federal trucking regulations are only helpful if they are enforced. Most commercial truck drivers are paid by the mile and are therefore given every incentive to break FMCSA hours of service regulations. Trucking companies have a responsibility to ensure that their drivers are not violating these regulations. Trucking companies should not put pressure on drivers to go beyond the allowed hours and should regularly check driver logs. If a company suspects that a driver is violating regulations, further investigation may be necessary. Evidence such as GPS tracking, receipts, shipping records, and surveillance video can all be used to establish whether a driver is resting as often as he or she is required.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

If you’ve been injured in an accident with a truck, it may the result of trucker fatigue, and you should consult with an attorney. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have over 50 years of experience helping New Yorkers injured in truck accidents. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MED-LAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits available. Se habla espaňol.