Commercial Truck Companies and Driver Fatigue
Charlotte, NC Attorney
The U.S. Department of Transportation has found that truck driver fatigue has been a primary factor in the nearly 4,000 fatal large truck crashes each year. Consecutive hours of work without the requisite rest can cause commercial truck drivers to be fatigued, and when this occurs, the risk of serious accidents greatly increases, particularly because of the involvement of large trucks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association conducted a study that revealed driver fatigue as a factor in 30 to 40% of all large truck crashes. If you have been injured in a large truck accident in North or South Carolina, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney such as Justin Bice of the law firm of Bice Law, LLC.
Hours of Work Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issues rules that determine the boundaries of how commercial truck companies can operate and the limits of how they may require their drivers to work. At present, commercial drivers are prohibited from operating a truck or bus no more than eleven consecutive hours before resting for a minimum of ten hours. Additionally, FMCSA requires drivers to take a thirty-minute rest break within the first eight hours of their shift. These rules were issued because studies showed that the risk of an accident effectively doubles from the eighth to the tenth hour of driving, and doubles again from the tenth to the eleventh hour of driving.
Commercial trucking is a very competitive industry, and the rising demand for overnight shipments and for fresh produce to be transported from one coast to the other may cause companies to overextend their employees. Most trucking companies operate on very thin margins, and they often exert undue pressure on employees to driver longer than what they can do safely.
Proposed Rule to Change Hours of Work FMCSA Regulations
The FMCSA issued a proposed regulation to limit fatigued drivers from being on the road by updating the use of the thirty-four hour rest period, known as the restart. The restart required drivers to restart once every seven days and include at least two periods of rest between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. The restart was meant to allow drivers to rest longer and catch up on missed sleep before working another long week. Once the new restart rule takes effect, it will reduce the maximum number of hours a driver could work in a single workweek from 82 hours to 70 hours.
According to the Department of Transportation, drivers that work long hours are more vulnerable to accidents. They have slower reaction times and have more limited ability to assess situations that arise on the road quickly without enough recovery time. Additionally, truck drivers are unable assess their own fatigue levels properly and fail to adequately gauge their driving performance. However, the U.S. Congress has suspended the enforcement of these new rules until after additional studies and reports are completed.
Trucking and shipping companies are responsible for their drivers’ performance, which includes ensuring that they do not operate trucks while fatigued. If an accident occurs due to driver fatigue, and it is shown that the commercial trucking company failed to provide the driver with sufficient information, training, and supervision, the company may be held liable in a suit. Bice Law, LLC, can help you seek compensation for your injuries if you were in an accident with a large truck with a fatigued driver. Contact us today for a free initial consultation by calling our toll-free number at 877-BICE-877 or by submitting our online form. Truck accident litigation is complex, and consulting an attorney as early as possible in your case can make a difference, so do not hesitate to contact us today.
Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law:
The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability. We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly. Call 877-BICE-877 today or submit an online request to get a free consultation with a personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.