The Dangers of Tired Truck Drivers

Commercial, freight bearing vehicles – including 18-wheelers, tractor trailers, and semi-trucks – are massive machines that can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Excess weight, vehicle articulation (trailers), large cargo, and sheer size make maneuvering these vehicles a difficult task for even the most seasoned truck driver. When you factor in unfavorable road conditions, the negligence and carelessness of other drivers, and the inability of commercial trucks to stop or maneuver quickly, it becomes clear that drivers of commercial vehicles need to be alert and prepared at all times when behind the wheel.

As trucking accidents have such an overwhelming potential to cause horrific damage, serious injuries, and death, the federal government has taken great measures to ensure that preventable sources of truck accidents are addressed. While these preventable causes can take many forms – including improper driver training and driver impairment – tired drivers have become an increasingly alarming concern.

Several scientific studies have found that driving tired poses as equally serious risks as driving impaired or intoxicated. Being tired, just like being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, slows reaction time and impairs judgment. As a result, tired and drowsy drivers place others on public roads and highways in serious danger. When these tired drivers are behind the wheel of a large commercial truck, the results can be devastating.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) – a subsidiary of the United States Department of Transportation – is the primary government agency responsible for regulating the trucking industry. The FMCSA enforces hundreds of federal laws, with regulations governing everything from driver training standards to regular vehicle maintenance to cargo restrictions.

When it comes to confronting the problem of tired drivers, the FMCSA enforces a number of specific rules. Known as hours-of-service (HOS) regulations, these standards are designed to ensure that truck drivers have mandatory rest periods and limitations on the amount of time they can spend behind the wheel or on the clock. Hours of service regulations also vary for commercial truck drivers and drivers of commercial passenger carrying vehicles, such as a bus. Some of the most notable Hours-of-Service regulations for freight carrying commercial trucks are as follows:

  • 11 hour driving limit after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Drivers may not drive beyond their 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Drivers may only drive if 8 hours or less have passed since the end of their last rest period (at least 30 minutes).
  • Drivers may not operate a commercial truck after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. 7/8 consecutive day periods can be restarted if they take 34 consecutive hours off.
  • Drivers with a sleeper berth in their vehicle must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth.

These are only a few of the many intricate Hours-of-Service regulations. Regardless of the precise violation, any truck driver and trucking company that fails to ensure that these rules are followed can be held fully liable for the damages caused by tired drivers. By conducting thorough investigations and utilizing extensive resources and experience, attorney Adam Loewy can determine which violations may have played a role in causing a truck accident. With this evidence, he can work toward holding truck drivers and trucking companies financially responsible for compensating injured victims.

If you or your loved one has been injured in a truck accident that was not your fault, place your trust in an Austin personal injury attorney who has a solid understanding of the many federal trucking regulations in place. Contact the Loewy Law Firm to learn more about your case and truck accident claim.