A commercial truck can weigh up to 80,000 lbs or 40 tons. Because of their immense mass, they require additional training and licensing to operate. When a commercial vehicle strikes a much smaller car or motorcycle, the results can be catastrophic. That’s why the trucking industry is heavily regulated at the state and federal level.
Trucker Fatigue – How it Happens
Truckers have schedules to maintain and deadlines to meet. To keep their commitments, they often push themselves beyond safety limits. Because of that, truck drivers often rely on cigarettes, caffeine, prescription medicine, and illegal drugs to stay alert during their hauls. Of course, having a truck driver operating a vehicle while under the influence of stimulants can be just as dangerous as a fatigued driver.
To combat the dangers of driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates the hours of service allowed by truck drivers. Drivers may operate their vehicles for 14 consecutive hours (with breaks). However, a driver must have a 10-hour break between tow 14-hour periods. While this is frequently considered a 24-hour day, both the 14 hours and the 10-hour day can bridge two days. But even with this restriction, a driver can potentially operate for 98 hours a week under federal law.
Additionally, drivers can do other work during their 10-hour break. They are not required to sleep or rest. Truckers are also required to take a 30-minute break after a 10-hour driving period.
To ensure that truckers are adhering to these guidelines, they’re required to maintain a daily log.
Proving Trucker Fatigue After an Accident
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, your injury attorney will want to know if the trucker was fatigued. It’s standard procedure to subpoena the truck operator’s logbook to look for visible signs of fatigue. But what happens if the logbook appears to be in order? Does that mean that the driver was focused and in optimal driving condition? Maybe, but it’s pretty easy to put fraudulent numbers in a logbook. Your attorney should also look into the following information:
The departure time, arrival time, and locations of any stop the driver made before the accident. This should be consistent with the information in the logbook. For instance, if a driver arrived at a location during a time that the logbook states that they were out of service, it may call the logbook into question.
The GPS records. Most trucking companies have GPS systems to track their vehicles for logistics and to prevent theft. This can reveal any inaccuracies in the logbook.
The Driver’s Schedule. The schedule may reveal inconsistencies with logbook, but it can also show a pattern that would indicate fatigue. Remember, an attorney is not necessarily trying to demonstrate non-compliance, but rather fatigue.
Contact an Attorney Immediately
If you’ve been in an accident with a commercial truck, you should contact an attorney immediately. Crucial evidence that could show driver fatigue could be lost or altered given time. Truck accident lawyers are familiar with the complex commercial trucking regulations that can affect the outcome of your case. Because they work on a contingency basis, your consultation should be free, and you shouldn’t have to pay out-of-pocket costs.