Exhaustion, like alcohol and distraction, contributes to poor driving ability and increased risk of crashes. Commercial drivers who get behind the wheel while tired create danger, particularly for people in passenger vehicles. Fatigue and drowsiness are leading causes of truck accidents.
The massive size and weight of commercial trucks dwarf the size of even the biggest SUVs. The discrepancy in size between vehicles means that the smaller vehicle involved in a crash is more likely to take the majority of the damage in the collision. When commercial truck drivers are exhausted at the wheel, people in other vehicles are at increased risk of injury or death.
Truck drivers are under pressure to deliver on time
Driving for a living isn’t an easy job. There are long hours, lonely work conditions and sometimes physical injuries from sitting and lifting. Many truck drivers also face intense pressure from their employers to meet deadlines. In some cases, they could face disciplinary action or decreased work if they are repeatedly not on time. Others could receive a bonus for an on-time delivery.
Both penalties and bonuses encourage truck drivers to break or bend rules about hours of service. Delays due to weather or dense traffic conditions could leave a driver desperate to make up lost time. That could lead to driving for much longer than is legal or safe.
What are the Hours of Service regulations?
In order to limit the risks related to exhausted commercial drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has Hours of Service rules in place for commercial drivers carrying property in their vehicles. These rules limit how long drivers can operate a motor vehicle, as well as how many hours they can work within a particular number of days.
For example, commercial drivers cannot continue driving beyond the 14th hour after they start their shift. They can drive a maximum of 11 hours per shift, with 10 hours off duty between shifts. In addition to those restrictions, commercial drivers can only drive 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight days.
Drivers and trucking companies should prioritize public safety
Far too many trucking companies put emphasis on their tight delivery schedules, without giving any kind of consideration to traffic conditions or weather on the roads. Truck drivers, motivated by fear of losing a job or desire for additional pay, may choose to drive when they should not, even going so far as to alter or falsify their log books regarding rest times.
After a collision caused by a commercial driver, a personal injury attorney can investigate both the individual driver’s history and the policies and actions of the company involved. One or both may be held accountable for the damages suffered in the collision.