Truck drivers have to work very long hours at a tedious job. It is no surprise that they are often fatigued or distracted. Truck diver error causes significantly more accidents involving trucks than any other factor, including weather or poor road conditions.
There are many causes of truck driver error. Simple fatigue is the most obvious one. Truck drivers work for so many hours at a time that they simply become tired, which impairs their judgement and increases their reaction time. Drivers may even fall asleep while driving. This fatigue issue is well-known to truckers. Some of them turn to medication or drugs in an attempt to keep themselves alert, although this can cause its own set of problems. Errors in judgment are not limited to driving itself when it comes to trucking. It is up to the truckers to load and secure their cargo, and if they do this incorrectly, it can lead to accidents, even if they are awake and alert on the road.
The Driver and The Company
Trucking accidents do not simply involve the liability of the truck driver. The company that employed the driver might be liable for any accident if they did not follow and enforce the correct policies about maximum shift length, drug and alcohol testing, and similar issues. It is the responsibility of the company to make sure that its drivers are safe and do not pose an undue risk to other drivers.
If you are involved in a truck accident and you suspect that driver error due to fatigue, drug or alcohol use, or a similar factor played a role, then both the driver and company are responsible for the conditions that led to the accident. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you should seek a qualified truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call 301-627-8700 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.
Causes of Truck Accidents
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the three biggest factors that cause accidents that involved driver error are drug use, speeding, and fatigue. The last factor, fatigue, is something that the federal government takes very seriously. The government makes special rules called “hours of service” rules. These determine how much time a truck company can ask their drivers to spend on the road at a time. The current limit is that truck drivers can be on duty for 14 hours a day, of which they can be actually driving for no more than 11 hours. There are also rules to prevent truck drivers from spending too many days in a row logging long hours, as this prevents them from getting the sleep they need to be attentive and safe drivers.
Truck Driver Compliance
To ensure compliance with these rules, truckers and their companies are required to keep logs that record the hours a driver spends on duty and on the road every day. If a company is regularly asking its drivers to spend more than the maximum hours of service on the road, then it is liable for a suit if any of those drivers get into an accident that can attributed to driver error as a result of fatigue. An unscrupulous company might intentionally alter logs or record inaccurate logs, but there is an way to verify how long a driver has spend on the road using information from a third party. Drivers need to maintain records of deliveries and pickups whenever they are moving cargo, and the company responsible for the cargo will sign and stamp these records, as well as keep copies of them. They are usually called bills of lading, and sometimes they are called trip tickets. These can be a way to test if a trucker’s logs are truly accurate in terms of whether they really show how much time a driver spent on the road. A company that not only pushes its drivers too hard but also keeps false logs is in even more trouble.
For that reason, any time you are involved in an accident that involves trucking, be aware of hours of service rules and the ways companies might try to circumvent them. Trucking accidents are not common, and fatigue alone is not the largest factor in causing them. However, if you do suspect that fatigue contributed to the accident that affected you, it is good to know that there are federal regulations to preclude just this kind of situation, and a company or driver that is in violation of these regulations is open to being sued. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact us online or call 301-627-8700 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.