The Dangers Of Semi-Truck Driver Fatigue

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) places strict requirements on drivers of commercial vehicles, including semi-trucks that travel from state to state. Additionally, every state places restrictions on truck drivers as well, and they typically mirror the hours of service required at the federal level. These regulations are put into place to help prevent fatigued truck drivers on the roadway. When a driver gets behind the wheel fatigued, significant injuries and property damage can occur.

Understanding the Hours of Service

The hours of service set forth by the FMCSA apply to vehicles that operate from state to state, though state agencies will regulate trucks that operate only inside the state of Oregon. The federal hours of service regulations are as follows:

  • A Truck driver can operate for 11 hours of driving time during a single 14-hour driving window. This 14-hour window should also include any meal breaks, naps, or restroom breaks the driver needs. The 14-hour driving window will start after a driver has had 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Drivers are required to take a 30-minute break if they have been on the road for eight consecutive hours.
  • During each work week, drivers are allowed to operate for either 60 or 70 hours, depending on whether or not it is being measured by a seven or eight-day work week.
  • Drivers can restart a seven or eight-day work week by taking 34 or more consecutive hours off.

Dangers of Fatigue Behind the Wheel of a Commercial Truck

There are significant dangers related to commercial truck drivers becoming fatigued behind the wheel. Truck driver fatigue is a serious problem, particularly because they are behind the wheel of a vehicle that can weigh tens of thousands of pounds, much more than the typical passenger vehicle on the roadway. When a larger commercial truck strikes another vehicle on the roadway, it is much more likely to lead to catastrophic injuries and significant property damage than incidents involving regular vehicles.

Truck driver fatigue can lead to the driver becoming inattentive to the vehicles around them, including the vehicles right in front of them. A fatigued driver will be much more likely to rear-end other vehicles in front of them at a stop sign, stop light, or a traffic standstill.

Drivers who are fatigued behind the wheel will typically suffer from the same types of signs and symptoms as impaired drivers. This can include weaving in and out of lanes, speeding or operating too slowly, delayed reaction times to obstacles on the roadway, and more.

Recovering Compensation After a Truck Crash

Individuals who sustain injuries caused by truck driver negligence, including fatigued driving, should be able to recover compensation for their losses. However, recovering this compensation will be challenging, especially when it comes to obtaining proof that the driver was indeed fatigued. Often, the driver will say that they were not tired, and the crash victim will have a counter-story. Evidence will need to be gathered to determine the truth of the incident.

Evidence that can prove truck driver fatigue could include the truck driver’s electronic logging device (ELD), which keeps track of the driver’s hours of service. In the event the ELD is broken, drivers are allowed to use traditional paper logs, but only for a limited period of time.

Other types of evidence that could be used to prove truck driver fatigue include statements from eyewitnesses and other drivers or passengers, video surveillance from nearby cameras, truck company dispatch records, and more.

Crash victims should be able to recover compensation for their medical expenses, lost income if they cannot work, out-of-pocket expenses, property damage losses, pain and suffering damages, and more.

Contact our Portland truck accident attorneys today.