What role does driver fatigue play in truck accidents and liability?

truck driver asleep at wheel

Fatigue impairs a motorist’s cognition and motor skills, diminishing their ability to operate a vehicle safely. A driver who gets behind the wheel while they are too tired increases the risk of being involved in an accident. However, this risk is higher in the trucking industry. Truckers are often pressured to meet tight deadlines, causing them to push themselves way beyond their limits. As such, truckers are more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel, resulting in devastating crashes. Even if a trucker does not fall asleep, fatigue will slow the critical abilities needed to navigate the roadways safely. If you have been injured in an accident due to negligence, contact our experienced Middlesex County Truck Accident Attorneys, who can help you fight to obtain the just compensation you may be entitled to for the damages you’ve endured. Please continue reading to learn how truck driver fatigue can impact your accident claim.

What are hours of service regulations in the trucking industry?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enforces state and federal safety regulations that govern the trucking industry to mitigate the risks of collisions. Driver fatigue is prevalent with truckers as they are pressured to meet tight deadlines, causing them to stay on the road much longer than they should. The governmental regulations regarding hours of service are enforced to combat truck driver fatigue. As such, truckers are allowed to drive a maximum of eleven hours following ten consecutive hours off duty. They are prohibited from operating for more than eight hours without taking a minimum 40-minute break to rest.

According to research, truck drivers who stay away for more than 24 hours suffer a similar impairment to their driving as drivers with a blood alcohol content of 0.010, which is well above the legal limit for commercial vehicle drivers. Therefore, they cannot be on duty for more than 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days. To ensure truckers adhere to their hours of service regulations, they must record their hours of operation in logbooks. Unfortunately, many truckers disregard governmental regulations and falsify their logs to conceal violations.

How can driver fatigue impact liability?

Generally, before an individual can recover monetary compensation for their damages, they must prove the other party’s negligence caused them to suffer injuries. With this, they must prove that the other party failed to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. However, if the accident was caused due to drowsy driving, the negligence per se doctrine may be used, which is a shortcut to proving negligence. Instead of showing that the at-fault party did not act reasonably, they can show that they were negligent because they violated a statute or regulation designed to protect people like them. Ultimately, showing they violated a trucking regulation will prove they were negligent, as a reasonable person would not break the law.

If you have been injured in a truck accident due to driver fatigue, a determined Middlesex County truck accident attorney from Stathis & Leonardis can help you investigate the circumstances of the collision and gather pertinent evidence that can hold responsible parties accountable for their negligence.

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