Fatigued truck drivers are one of the most dangerous issues on the country’s roads today. One of the most famous accidents occurred on June 8, 2014, when actor/standup comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured and hospitalized after a Walmart truck collided into the back of the limo van carrying the star and a few of his friends while driving on the New Jersey Turnpike. The driver of the Walmart truck, who seconds before the collision had fallen asleep at the wheel, did not see the traffic in front of him and swerved and hit the back of the van. This led to a multi-car pile-up including those who were unable to escape the domino effect of the collision.
The driver of the truck, who was charged with one count of vehicular homicide and four counts of assault with an automobile, had apparently been awake for almost 24 hours at the time of the accident. The driver subsequently pled guilty in a plea bargain, avoiding prison time.
The Trend of Driver Fatigue in Fatality Statistics
In the last few years there has been an increase in the number of commercial truck accidents involving serious injuries and fatalities. In 2018, it was estimated that there were 4,136 deaths as a result of large-truck accidents. The largest contributing factor to these types of large-truck accidents is speeding, followed by driver fatigue.
Regulations to Combat Driver Fatigue in the Commercial Trucking Industry
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) is the federal agency that oversees the rules and regulations for the commercial trucking industry. As of this writing, FMSCA rules state that truck drivers are prohibited from driving more than 11 hours on any given day and no more than 14 hours during a workday. In addition to this rule, the FMSCA also requires that drivers not work more than 70 hours a week, a 12-hour reduction from previous standards. The driver can resume working after reaching that 70-hour mark if they have a rest period of at least 34 consecutive hours. Another rule is that the driver must take a 30-minute break within the first eight hours of their shift.
These provisions, though helpful in setting an industry standard for the number of consecutive hours that a commercial driver may be on the road, are not routinely followed, especially in light of truck drivers being paid by the mile and on strict delivery schedules.
A Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident involving a commercial truck driver, you may be able to assert your claim for damages that you sustained as a result of the accident. Large-truck accidents are often catastrophic due to the massive size of the vehicle itself and can lead to more serious injuries and fatalities than motor vehicles of the same size. Call a trucking accident lawyer in Memphis, TN today to find out how they can help.
Thanks to Patterson Bray for their insight into personal injury claims and commercial truck driver fatigue.