Truck Driver Fatigue
Due to the weight and size of commercial trucks, drivers must be alert at all times so that they can respond to changing traffic patterns and driving conditions. Federal regulations mandate that interstate truck drivers abide by hours-of-service rules and keep logbooks. Trucking companies are should ensure that their truck drivers follow these rules. They should not encourage truck drivers to drive while fatigued. If you were injured in an accident caused by truck driver fatigue, you should discuss your situation with seasoned White Plains truck accident attorney Mark A. Siesel.Truck Driver Fatigue
A common cause of truck accidents is truck driver fatigue. Truck drivers who are tired while on the road may not react quickly enough to changing road conditions or emergencies. Commercial trucks require additional time to come to a complete stop once the driver has applied the brakes. A small delay in reaction time due to fatigue can make a big difference in what happens next.
Truck drivers owe a duty to operate their trucks in a reasonably safe way so as to avoid injury to others with whom they share the road. A truck driver who operates a truck while fatigued may be violating the duty to use reasonable care. To hold an interstate truck driver responsible, you'll likely need to prove his negligence by establishing (1) he owed a duty to use reasonable care, (2) he breached the duty of reasonable care, (3) his breach caused your injuries, (4) and damages.Hours of Service Regulations
Interstate truck drivers must follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) hours of service regulations, which includes different rules depending on whether a driver is carry property or passengers. Interstate truck drivers carrying property are allowed to drive up to 11 hours after 10 hours off-duty in row. They cannot drive after the 14th hour in a row after getting on duty, following 10 hours in a row off duty. Further, they must break for 30 minutes if they've driven for eight hours without a 30-minute pause. Truck drivers can satisfy this rule about breaks so long as they do not drive, whether that means they’re on duty, but not driving or resting in a sleeper berth. Truck drivers are not allowed to drive once they've been 60 hours on duty in seven consecutive days or 70 hours on duty in eight consecutive days. Once a truck driver takes 34 or more hours off-duty in a row, there is a restart and the driver can start over with a new cycle of 60-70 hours again. When adverse driving conditions are met, a truck driver can lengthen the 11-hour maximum driving limit by up to two hours. Similarly, when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions, the 14-hour driving window can be extended by two hours.
If you were injured in a truck accident caused by a truck driver who violated the hours of service rules and whose fatigue contributed to your injuries, you may be able to recover damages. Your lawyer may consider retaining an accident reconstruction expert to identify other parties at fault. Depending on the circumstances, a trucking company, loading company, mechanic, or truck manufacturer may have contributed to the accident. Sometimes, truck driver fatigue combines with other mistakes to result in catastrophic or even fatal injuries.
A trucking company may be vicariously (indirectly) liable for an accident caused by truck driver fatigue. In some cases, a trucking company can be held accountable for its own negligent training, supervision, or hiring. For example, if a trucking company looked away from its driver’s hours of service violations to preserve profits and keep delivery times tight, it could be held accountable under a theory of negligent supervision.
Proving an hours-of-service violation requires the careful examination of all the evidence. Your attorney may send a spoliation of evidence letter to the trucking company so that the company will preserve evidence stored in the truck's black box. This instrument electronically records actions taken in connection with the truck, such as how long the vehicle was in motion. Additionally, the investigation may look at the logbooks that truck drivers are required to keep.Logbooks
The FMSCA regulations require interstate truck drivers to keep logbooks that track their hours of service. The regulations also require trucking companies to adequately supervise their drivers in keeping these logbooks. Trucking companies should not encourage their drivers to lie about their hours of service and logbooks.
In some cases, drivers may falsify their logbook entries or fail to maintain a logbook at all. If you have questions about the authenticity or accuracy of a logbook, you may have to retain experts to examine the logbook.2014 Tracy Morgan Case
Unfortunately, some tired truck drivers still operate their vehicles. In 2014, in spite of regulations limiting hours of service, a truck driver who was awake for more than 24 consecutive hours caused a fatal accident. The driver slammed into a limo from behind because he didn't notice that the traffic had slowed in front of him. The collision injured many people, including comedian Tracy Morgan, and killed one man when the impact caused the limo to rotate and turn over. Other vehicles were also involved in the crash. Morgan sustained a broken femur, a broken leg, a broken nose, and broken ribs. The trucking company paid a confidential settlement. The accident brought attention to the persistent problem of truck driver fatigue. Trucking companies have resisted efforts to tighten regulations, putting their profits ahead of people's safety.Consult a Seasoned White Plains Lawyer About Your Truck Accident
If you were injured in a truck accident in White Plains or the surrounding area, you should discuss your options with attorney Mark A. Siesel. Our firm represents persons injured in trucking accidents in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island, as well as Westchester, Putnam, Kings, Orange, Dutchess, Sullivan, Rockland, and Ulster Counties. Contact us at (914) 428-7386 or complete our online form.