A truck driver’s job is to cover as much ground as possible. For many trucking companies, the more ground a driver covers, the more they get paid. Because of this, many in the industry overlook the law, causing truck driver fatigue that can lead to serious accidents.

For more information on the legal rights which may be available to truck accident victims, complete the Free Case Evaluation on this page.

Regulations Aimed at Reducing Truck Driver Fatigue

In 2005, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) modified its hours-of-service regulations to reduce uninterrupted time behind the wheel. These changes were made in order to reduce the risk of truck accidentsinjuries and fatalities.

The FMCSA’s revisions, which will take effect in July 2013, include the following:

  • Truck drivers are not allowed to drive after accumulating 60 work hours during a 7-day period or 70 work hours over an 8-day period. Known as the restart provision, drivers are allowed to return to the road after 34 hours off duty.
  • Interstate commercial truck drivers cannot driver more than 11 hours or drive after 14 hours since starting a duty shift until they have taken a 10-hour break.
  • If a truck driver uses sleeper births in their trucks, they may split the required 10-hour daily break minimum between at least 8 hours in the sleeper birth and at least 2 hours in the sleeper birth or off duty.

Signs and Causes of Truck Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers are often paid by the mile, which gives them a strong incentive to stay on the road as opposed to stopping to rest when they feel tired. Truckers usually fail to notice signs of fatigue, such as tired eyes, yawning and drowsiness, or they may elect to disregard these signs altogether. If a driver takes drugs or other stimulants, such as caffeine, to stay awake, their driving ability may be impaired in other ways. Either way, the trucking company may be liable for harm caused by an accident that results from these circumstances.

In addition to profit encouraging truckers to driver farther for longer hours, the following situations may also lead to truck driver fatigue:

  • A driver who is anxious to get home.
  • Wanting to push through in order to avoid rush-hour traffic
  • Truck companies may offer a driver bonus for extra stops.
  • Making up for time lost due to bad weather or traffic.

Truck Driver Fatigue Lawsuits

According to Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, truckers are required to use logbooks to record their drive times and to show that they took their legally required rest breaks.

Many truck drivers, however, have taken to keeping two logbooks; one that is accurate and a second one that has been falsified to turn over to investigators in the event that they are involved in a collision.

It is important for truck accident victims to consult with an experienced truck accident attorney, especially if fatigue may be the cause of the wreck. At the Edwards Law Firm, our truck accident lawyers will seek punitive damages in addition to compensation of losses for accident victims when a truck driver either falsifies logbooks or willfully violates regulations aimed at reducing driver fatigue.