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Signs of Truck Driver Fatigue

Semi-Truck Accidents Involving TRUCK DRIVER FATIGUE

This photo is of a case handled by Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers who traveled to the scene with a team of experts and Vanderbilt Hospital where the client had been taken with crushed legs. Our client was traveling in Warren County, Kentucky when a driver who was over the hours and suffered from truck driver fatigue, ran a red light hitting his car and knocking our client onto the pavement. He was fortunate to survive. This case is an excellent example of the dangers of semi-truck drivers who operate these huge trucks on our highways after driving over 11 hours in violation of federal law. We collected well over a million dollars for our client.

Truck Driver Fatigue Accident

Truck drivers must follow strict rules about when they are allowed to drive and when they must rest. But, some truck drivers don’t follow these rules. When they are tired, they can crash. The best truck companies have fatigue management training and teach the driver the need to receive adequate rest and to be well-rested.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the number of hours a commercial truck driver can drive in any given 24-hour period. It also requires truck drivers to take extended breaks after longer trips. Truck drivers are then required to keep track of their hours within their logbooks. Highway safety patrol and truck companies then review these logs to ensure that the drivers are complying with these rules and regulations.

Unfortunately, truck drivers are not rewarded for the time they do not drive. Each truck driver earns money for the miles he or she covers, not for “down” time. This can lead some truck drivers to improperly log their hours so they can get paid more, and so their companies can earn more. These actions can lead to truck driver fatigue, which then leads to trucks running off the road, jackknifing, rolling over and other types of auto accidents.

While it is required for drivers to keep records of their hours, they sometimes fabricate logbooks if they go over the hours allowed. Drivers do this to make more money if they get paid by the mile or if their company offers rewards for finishing a job ahead of schedule. If this happens, drivers are more likely to become fatigued and pose a danger to people on the road.

Semi-truck drivers are often kept driving over the hours required by law by a company wanting to make bigger profits. This often results in serious semi-truck accidents or even death to others on the road. The team at Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, Kentucky and Tennessee personal injury lawyers are ready to come to the scene and preserve evidence. Call us 24/7 if you need help.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has a number of hours-of-service regulations to help prevent one main cause of truck accidents, fatigue.

For example, truckers carrying loads:

  • May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty
  • May be on duty (driving and loading/unloading) a maximum of 14 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty
  • May drive a maximum of 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days
  • Must take a 30-minute rest break during the first eight hours of a shift

Driving a vehicle for long distances and/or for long periods of time is exhausting both physically and mentally. And that is if you do it sporadically. For long haul truck drivers who do this day after day, week after week for a living, “truck driver fatigue” only gets worse over time. Current federal regulations mandate drivers are only allowed to drive so many hours per day or week, but these numbers have been negotiated with large truck driving company lobbyists. As a result, many experts feel these allowances are too high and still represent a great danger to the driving public.

In the South Carolina Commercial Drivers License (CDL) Manual, there is an entire section devoted to “Staying Alert and Fit to Drive.” In that portion, it is stressed that drivers should “get enough sleep (at least 7-8 hours of sleep every 24 hours) before leaving on a long trip. The manual also encourages drivers to drive during those hours when they are “normally awake.” For example, many accidents occur between midnight and 6 a.m. If you are already tired, you can easily fall asleep and be involved in a serious accident. It is strongly discouraged to try and “push on” or “finish” a long trip under these circumstances.

Other suggestions for dealing with truck driver fatigue include keeping the cab cool by opening a vent or using the air conditioner (“if you have one”), avoiding medications which can cause drowsiness, taking regular breaks to “walk around and inspect your vehicle”, and even stopping regularly to sleep or take naps. The manual specifically warns that “sleep is the only thing that will work” when your body is tired. So many drivers attempt to “keep going” with coffee, over the counter “alert” products, and even prescription and illegal drugs.

Such measures may last for a short while, but when they “wear off,” the effects end quickly and unpredictably. That is when really bad things happen. Long haul drivers are put under tremendous pressure by trucking companies to “get the load delivered” without seeming concern for how it is accomplished. And, if a driver owns his own rig, he/she is only making money “when the wheels are turning.” Tragically, when companies or individual drivers push themselves beyond their bodies’ physiological limits, serious and fatal accidents occur. Of course, it is not an “accident” when drivers “choose” to take dangerous chances with their own safety. And sadly, it is innocent families that pay the ultimate price for their carelessness.

If someone else is found fully or partially responsible for your accident, you may be able to recover compensation to the extent of the other party’s culpability for some or all of these damages:

  • Medical Bills – for your past, present and future costs of the medical treatments;
  • Property Damage – for the damage to your car and its contents;
  • Pain and Suffering – for the physical pain and limitations resulting from the crash;
  • Loss of Wages – for the time you had to take off of work to recover from the accident or to visit doctors, therapists and others who are helping you to cope with your injuries;
  • Impairment of Earning Capacity – for the diminishment of your ability to earn a living, due to your injuries;
  • Lifestyle Changes – for the loss of enjoyment in your life due to debilitating injuries;
  • Life-Care – for the ongoing non-medical needs you may have if you were badly injured; and
  • Punitive Damages – if the trucking company’s intentional or reckless acts contributed to causing the truck crash that injured you.

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Get Skilled Assistance – Contact a Kentucky Truck Driver Fatigue Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one have been injured in a semi-truck accident call us! Kentucky Personal injury lawyer Flora Templeton Stuart has represented hundreds injured by big trucks. Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers will travel to the scene and to clients injured by big trucks. Call our law firm at (888) 782-9090 twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. We happily serve to Bowling Green, Glasgow, Greenville Kentucky, and Tennessee.

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“After being hit by a semi while at a truckstop off the interstate in Franklin, TN, they met me at Greenview hospital. Flora and her staff did a great job on my case, they returned all my calls, and they got me a settlement really quick.” – Virgil N.