Commercial truck drivers are incredibly hard workers. Day and night, they spend long hours trekking across roadways in vehicles that are notoriously difficult to maneuver. Unfortunately, this means that many truck drivers suffer from fatigue – putting themselves, other drivers, and pedestrians at risk of being involved in a dangerous truck accident.
What is truck driver fatigue? According to a recent report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), “fatigue is the result of physical or mental exertion that impairs performance. Driver fatigue may be due to a lack of adequate sleep, extended work hours, strenuous work or non-work activities, or a combination of other factors.” Unfortunately, researchers have found that approximately 13% of commercial truck drivers were suffering from fatigue during a serious collision.
While there are laws in place that put limits on the service hours that are permitted by truck drivers, many drivers feel pressure from trucking companies to exceed those limits in order to make tight deadlines. You shouldn’t be left to struggle with injuries, medical expenses, and lost wages when a negligent truck driver drove while fatigued.
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident caused by a fatigued truck driver, the experienced truck accident attorneys at Jurewitz Law Group | Injury & Accident Lawyers can handle each step of your personal injury claim and fight strategically for the full compensation you’re owed. Call us today at (760) 585-4640 to schedule your free consultation.
Preventing Truck Driver Fatigue
To reduce the risk of truck drivers driving while fatigued or drowsy, the FMCSA has imposed strict hours of service regulations, which limit the length of time a truck driver can drive before they must take a break. Per these regulations:
- Drivers may only drive a maximum of 11 hours after ten consecutive hours off duty.
- Drivers may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming back on duty, following ten consecutive hours off duty. Any off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
- The driver may not drive after 60 hours on duty over seven consecutive days, or 70 hours on duty over eight consecutive days. The consecutive day period restarts after the driver takes 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
- The truck drivers may only drive if eight hours or less have passed since the end of their last break of at least 30 minutes.
- Drivers using the sleeping berth provision must take at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper birth, plus a separate two consecutive hours in the sleeper birth, or off duty, or any combination of the two.
There are other steps truck drivers should take to help ensure that they remain awake, alert, and focused on the task of driving, such as avoiding medications that could cause drowsiness and learning to recognize the signs of truck driver fatigue.
How To Stay Safe Around Trucks
Because commercial trucks are so different from the average vehicle in terms of size and weight, drivers should take certain precautions when traveling alongside trucks on the road. According to a report from the FMCSA, these precautions include:
- Staying out of a truck’s blind spots
- Being sure to pass safely
- Refraining from cutting trucks off
- Refraining from tailgating trucks
- Anticipating wide turns from trucks
- Staying patient and focused
- Buckling up your seatbelt
- Never driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
What to Do If You’ve Been in a Truck Accident
Although the mere thought of being involved in a commercial truck accident can feel stressful, it’s always helpful to be prepared in the event of an unfortunate collision. By following these steps, you’ll be taking direct action to protect your rights and well-being in the future.
- Get out of harm’s way and report the crash – After a collision, one of the most important first steps you can take is moving to a safer place to avoid any further damage. If you or another involved party has been injured or killed, it’s imperative to call 911 as soon as possible. The responding officer will examine the scene and fill out a report. It’s important that you request a copy of that report and keep it in your records as evidence for your claim.
- Seek immediate medical treatment – Even if you feel fine after an accident, it’s important to seek treatment from a medical professional. The rush of adrenaline you feel following an accident may mask the pain of an injury.
- Exchange information – There’s nothing worse than leaving the scene of an accident without vital contact information. Be sure to collect the driver’s name, address, phone number, email address, insurance information, license number, and employer information.
- Collect statements from witnesses – Witness statements are valuable pieces of evidence. It’s important to get contact information from witnesses and to record witness accounts as soon as possible.
- Document the accident – Take photos of the accident scene, including the position of the vehicles, vehicle damage, skid marks, the weather, stop signs or stoplights, and also take photos of any visible injuries.
- Speak with an attorney before you speak with an insurance adjuster – An insurance adjuster will contact you after the accident to assess property damage and/or injury claims and determine how much the insurance company should pay. This is where you need to be careful – an insurance adjuster’s job is to minimize the company’s losses. This means that they will use anything you say as a means to undercompensate you. To ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve, it’s in your best interest to seek professional legal advice. An experienced truck accident attorney can handle the communication for you.
How a Carlsbad Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
Commercial truck accidents are much more destructive than the average vehicle collision. Weighing up to 80 thousand pounds, commercial vehicles can cause serious injuries, fatalities, and property damage during a collision.
If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, you may feel intimidated by the idea of pursuing legal action – and for good reason. Unlike everyday collisions between standard vehicles, liable parties in commercial truck collisions aren’t just limited to drivers. The truck driver’s employer may be liable if they failed to enforce driving limits or properly train their drivers, and the truck’s manufacturer may also be liable if a defect contributed to the accident.
Unfortunately, big trucking companies are armed to the teeth with skilled legal teams who have one job – to help the company avoid as much accountability as possible. As a result, pursuing legal action against a commercial trucking company can be overwhelmingly stressful – especially if you or someone you love has just been through the trauma of a devastating accident.
That’s why, at Jurewitz Law Group | Injury & Accident Lawyers, we’re dedicated to lifting the burden of stress off your shoulders. Our skilled, compassionate truck accident attorneys will be by your side through every step in the process, and we’ll do everything in our power to ensure you get every cent of the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our team members, contact our offices today at (760) 585-4640.