Truck drivers have demanding jobs. Truckers spend more time on the road for longer periods and more frequently than most drivers. Additionally, truck drivers are responsible for transporting valuable goods and materials across the country while meeting tight deadlines. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of the Department of Transportation publishes guidelines that enable trucking companies to conduct their business responsibly, while still allowing their truckers to practice safe driving principles.
Due to the nature of truck driving as a profession, the FMCSA has implemented strict rules covering hours of service for truck drivers. These rules aim to allow truck drivers to maintain their productivity within acceptable and safe parameters. Driving for too long at once or without adequate rest is almost as dangerous as driving under the influence. FMCSA research indicates that about 18% of all tractor trailer accidents happen due to driver fatigue.
The FMCSA has established the following rules for truck driver hours of service:
These are just a few of the guidelines, and you can research further on the FMCSA website.
After driving for an extended period of time without proper rest, a driver will start to experience effects similar to those that accompany alcohol consumption. A fatigued driver may fall asleep at the wheel and drift into other lanes of traffic or off the road entirely. Fatigued drivers also experience impaired judgment, slowed reaction times, impaired depth perception, inability to focus, and other detrimental effects that greatly increase the chances of an accident. When faced with road hazards or sudden changes on the road, a fatigued driver will likely fail to react appropriately.
The FMCSA upholds their hours of service rules to protect truck drivers and other motorists on the road. Trucking companies who fail to enforce these rules, or expect their drivers to meet unreasonable deadlines, can incur liability for accidents caused by driver fatigue. If a truck driver chooses to use drugs to stay awake longer than is advisable, the driver can face liability for any resulting accidents.
Anyone injured due to a truck driver’s violation of the FMCSA hours of service laws should know what to do when it comes to seeking legal recourse. Depending on the nature of the situation, the defendant in such a case could be a negligent driver who operated his or her vehicle while fatigued or a trucking company that failed to enforce FMCSA guidelines for their employees. After an accident, plaintiffs should address their medical needs before meeting with an attorney. An experienced attorney will know how to investigate whether an hours of service violation occurred and who is liable for the damages in your case.
The attorneys of Butler Wooten & Peak LLP want Georgia drivers to know their rights and where to turn for legal counsel. We have decades of experience in handling all types of tractor trailer accident cases, so reach out to our team to schedule a free consultation about your case today. When truck drivers or trucking companies fail to uphold their duty to act with reasonable care, it’s vital for injured victims to hold them accountable for their negligence. Call us today! (800) 242-2962