Truck Driver Fatigue and how it can Affect Your Case
Operating a vehicle while fatigued is never a good idea. This is true for any driver on the roadway. However, operating while drowsy is a significant problem for drivers of large commercial trucks. When truck drivers are tired behind the wheel, the potential for devastation should an accident occur is tremendous. Here, we want to discuss how truck driver fatigue can play a role in liability should an accident occur on the roadway. These cases can become complicated, and it is crucial that all truck accidents be thoroughly investigated in order to ensure that victims secure the compensation they need.
Truck Driver Fatigue – How it Causes Illinois Truck Accidents
To be absolutely clear, fatigued driving can affect any person on the roadway, whether or not they are driving a large vehicle or a traditional passenger vehicle. As we go through this list of common causes of fatigue driving, we need to point out that these causes are not necessarily specific to truck drivers. However, we do want to say that the very nature of a truck driver’s job tends to exasperate the most common causes of fatigue driving, which include:
- Not getting enough sleep
- Erratic sleep schedule
- Performing monotonous tasks
- Improper use of medications
- Excessive caffeine usage
- Poor diet
- Violation of hours of service requirements
Operating a vehicle while fatigued can create hazards because this significantly slows down a person’s reaction time when they are behind the wheel. Fatigued drivers may fail to notice changing roadway conditions, and they may not be able to react to other drivers’ actions around them. In some cases, a fatigued driver could even fall asleep behind the wheel, leading to a complete loss of control of the commercial truck. Most people have had moments where their eyes closed for only a second behind the wheel. While this may not seem like much time, the reality is that even a lapse of a few seconds on the part of the truck driver could lead to catastrophic accidents.
Understanding a Truck Driver’s Hours of Service Requirements
The US Department of Transportation is responsible for regulating truck drivers’ hours through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This agency regulates how many hours a truck driver is allowed to operate during a single day as well as during a total workweek. In general, a truck driver’s hours of service are as follows:
- Drivers can operate their vehicles during a 14-hour driving window after they have been off duty for ten consecutive hours.
- During the 14-hour driving window, the driver is allowed to operate the vehicle for 11 total driving hours. The rest of the time should be spent for nap breaks, restroom breaks, and meal breaks.
- Drivers must take a 30-minute break if they have been operating the truck for more than eight consecutive hours.
- In a seven-day workweek, a driver can operate for 60 total hours.
- During an eight-day workweek, the driver is allowed to operate for 70 total hours.
Proving Hours of Service Violations after a Crash
When a truck crash occurs, a thorough investigation will be conducted. If it is determined that a truck driver was operating the vehicle while fatigued, the driver and the company the driver works for could very well be held liable for the incident. There will be various ways that a skilled truck accident lawyer in Chicago can uncover evidence that a driver was operating while fatigued. This will include gathering the following:
- The truck driver’s electronic logging device (ELD)
- The truck driver’s paper logbook
- Photo or video surveillance of the incident
- Statements from any eyewitnesses
- Truck company safety records
- Truck driver’s driving history
- Mobile device data
- Weigh station check-ins
- Police reports
An attorney will use the resources available to them as well as their knowledge and of these incidents to gather all of the evidence needed to determine liability so victims can secure the compensation they are entitled to.