Is There Ever a Way to make Truck Drivers not Drive While Feeling Sleepy?

After the August 2010 truck accident that killed Ed Slattery’s wife Susan Slattery, confined his son Matthew to a wheelchair due to crushed skull that resulted to traumatic brain injury, and broke Peter’s (his other son) pelvis and eye socket, it was only in June 2014 when truck accidents due to driver fatigue gained new attention. This resurfacing of driver fatigue as a major cause of truck accidents was due to the crashes that killed four members of a Texas community college women’s softball team and which put comedian Tracy Morgan into a coma and killed his co-comedian James McNair.

In the August 2010 accident, the Triple trailer driver confessed to having dozed off prior to ramming into the Slattery’s Ford Focus and five other vehicles, while the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. driver of the tractor-trailer that hit Morgan’s limousine has had no sleep for at least 24 hours prior to the accident. (In 1991, driving triple trailers on U.S. highways was banned; 14 states, however, which predates the ban, were exempted from said ban)

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency in the U.S. Department of Transportation, is in charge of regulating the trucking industry in the United States; its primary mission is to reduce crashes involving large trucks and buses, and the injuries and deaths that these crashes cause.

The FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) believe that a vast majority of truckers, especially veteran truck drivers, are responsible drives who drive well within reasonable limits. Some others drivers, however, including the trucking companies they work for, are often tempted to push themselves/these drivers to their limits, putting so many other motorists at risk.

By regulating the number of hours truck drivers may operate their vehicle, the FMCSA hopes to make sure that drivers do not and are not allowed to drive while fatigued. Under the new hours of service (HOS) rules, truck drivers are allowed to work up to 14 hours a day, including 11 hours of driving. If ever a driver renders 70 hours duty in a week, he/she must rest 34 hours, including two consecutive nights from 1a.m. to 5 a.m.

Drivers, though, are never paid overtime, besides being paid by the mile – definitely not worth the exhaustion they experience and often long periods away from their families. Due to this, and the need to earn more, many end up driving despite lack of sleep or having no sleep at all.

As a result, at least 4,000 fatal truck crashes and more than 100,000 leading to injuries are recorded by the U.S. DOT every year, with trucker fatigue being the most common cause of these crashes.

Many modern cars and some trucks are now equipped with safety devices, such as the Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Adaptive cruise control/collision mitigation, Lane-departure warning/wake-you-up safety, and Emergency brake assist/collision mitigation. Despite all these modern safety equipment, truck accident lawyers from the Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller & Overbeck, P.A., know that the size difference between a passenger vehicle and a commercial truck means that, in the event of an accident, motorists can suffer a range of losses that could affect them for the rest of their life.

In the 2010 accident which involved the Slattery family, Ed’s lawyer found out that, months before the accident occurred, the truck driver was warned by the trucking company he worked for due to traffic safety violations, which included making improper turn signals, following too closely, and weaving. These were aside from having been involved in minor accidents and having sleep apnea, a disorder in how one breathes during sleep.

Injured or killed victims in truck accidents deserve only the full amount of compensation the law allows them to receive. Compensation should cover hospital bills, rehabilitation period, loss of wages and, in case of death, loss of companionship, funeral expenses, and all the pains and suffering suffered by the victim/s and the family.

Never think twice about getting a highly-competent lawyer, who may be able to get all the evidences that will help you claim the compensation that you deserve. A less experienced one may only cause you the full justice that you wish for and deserve.

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