Statistically speaking, driver fatigue is responsible for up to 40% of all accidents caused by semi-truck drivers. Data from the Deptartment of Transportation show that driver fatigue causes as many as 750 deaths and nearly 200,000 injuries on an annual basis.
Under the present rules, a driver must be allowed 10 hours off duty is he or she has been driving for more than 11 hours and/or has been "on duty" for up to 14 hours. In addition to this daily rule is a weekly rule that requires drivers to stop operating their truck if they have been "on-duty" for either 60 hours in a 7 day period or 70 hours in an 8 day period.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has fought unsuccesfuly to tighten these rules and avoid the driver fatigue that has caused so many accidents and injured so many people, but the lobbying groups behind the businesses that rely on these trucks have kept these stricter and safer rules from being enacted.
Even though the current rules limit the number of hours a truck driver can be behind the wheel, there are many drivers who falsify there logs to skirt the regulations. It is these drivers that end up injuring and/or killer innocent motorists on our nation’s highways.
So when you’re out there, keep your eyes open and approach every semi-truck as if the driver is fatigued……. it may save your life.
Mr. Smith has practiced as a trial attorney since graduating Notre Dame Law School in 1992. He has litigated cases across the country including cases from Ventura County, California to Middlesex County, New Jersey. He practices in both State and Federal courts.