Can Semi Driver Fatigue Lead to Fatal Accidents?

semi accident

Semi Driver Fatigue

Nearly 20 percent of all semi truck accidents are directly caused by semi driver fatigue according to a recent study from the Federal Motor carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This statistic doesn’t take into account the effect exhaustion can have on slowing reaction times, increasing the tendency to take unnecessary risks, and other factors that contribute to a driver’s inability to navigate the dangers of the roads safely.

Like many other members of the general public, you may believe there are more semi truck accidents than automobile accidents, and that the truck operator is always to blame because of the sheer size of the vehicle. Large trucks are actually involved in fewer accidents per 100 million miles than other types of vehicles. Semi truck accidents have a higher fatality rate than other motor vehicle accidents, however, and semi driver fatigue plays a significant role in this.

Semi Driver Fatigue and Rollovers

Rollover accidents are one of the most dangerous of all semi truck accidents. They’re related to a truck’s stability when it’s taking a turn, which is determined by the vehicle’s center of gravity and the distance between its left and right wheels. When a driver is fatigued, he or she may not use reasonable caution entering into the turn and end up taking the curve too fast. Fatigue is one of the primary reasons why otherwise good drivers fail to use proper judgement on the road. Rollover crashes only account for three percent of all motor vehicle accidents, yet they represent almost one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities.

Federal Hours of Services Rules

Federal law mandates that truck operators driving interstate routes, whose vehicles weigh more than 10,001 pounds or more, can only drive continuously for 11 hours in a single workday, and that a workday can’t be more than 14 hours long. Truck drivers are then compelled to take a mandatory 10 hour rest period before climbing back into their cabs.

In a seven day period, truck operators can only be on the road for 60-77 hours at most; in an eight day period, they can only drive between 70 and 88 hours. Though this kind of work schedule may seem horrendous to non-drivers, it’s a vast improvement over the type of schedule drivers kept before these rules went into effect when they frequently put in stretches of 24 to 36 hours behind the wheel, fueled by caffeine and stimulants.

Many truck drivers, however, try to get around these rules. Their livelihood, after all, depends upon the speed with which they can transport goods from pickup point to destination. Sometimes the companies these drivers work for do not question the drivers or push for hard enforcement of the rules because the productivity shows in their bottom line.

If you’re the victim in a truck accident, chances are your attorney will petition to get hold of the logs that drivers are required to keep by federal law. These logs will show whether the rules pertaining to hours of services were adhered to. Your attorney may also look at trip tickets and bills of laden to calculate the amount of time the driver was actually on the road. Hours of service rules are a federal requirement that must be followed no matter what state semi truck accidents take place in. If you are involved in a truck accident and believe that it was caused by semi driver fatigue due to a violation of federal hours of services rules, that case will be tried in a federal court.

Your Options After An Accident

If you or a loved one have been a victim of a semi truck accident, it is likely you do not know that you can seek possible compensation from the trucking company for your injuries. Trucking companies often have multiple attorneys fighting in their best interest, so you should not have to go against them alone. Contact the American Injury Attorney Group today if you have been injured. We can answer your legal questions, and our affiliated attorneys can help you decide if you want to seek compensation for your losses.

Visit our page on Trucking Accident Lawyers for more information

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