Truck Drivers’ Fatigue and Regulations That Protect Other Road Users

A driver staying up for long periods of time while driving, or otherwise being distracted when driving, is a recipe for disaster in a small passenger vehicle and can be compounded if the distracted or fatigued driver is in a semi-truck. Due to the size of semi-trucks and other commercial trucks, an accident involving one or more such trucks can have devastating results.

Under federal rules, a truck driver is allowed to drive up to 11 hours after taking a break of at least 10 consecutive hours. The trucker can violate this if he does not take the entire 10-hour break between his shifts. There are also limitations on the number of hours drivers of commercial vehicles transporting passengers can drive.

Unfortunately, these rules are not always followed, and with more demands to meet consumer needs faster, a trucking company may expect their drivers to drive more hours than is safe. When these drivers have been on the road longer than they can physically handle, accidents happen, and other people can get injured or killed.

These regulations mean that carriers or truck companies must keep records showing how long their drivers are on the road. Drivers are meant to keep logbooks or rely on electronic onboard recorders to document the hours they spend driving, as well as the hours they spend resting during their working hours. These records can prove useful to a plaintiff seeking compensation after an accident to prove that the driver was driving fatigued.

In addition, a driver’s overall work record can prove useful in determining if the driver was a frequent violator of the rules, or otherwise failed to take care when driving or transporting cargo.

Under the law, truck companies can be criminally prosecuted or fined if their drivers intentionally violate the rules. In cases where a company either intentionally encourages drivers to drive more hours than is safe or those that simply fail to ensure that their drivers are not driving fatigued, the companies can be held jointly responsible with the driver for the accident. This means that the plaintiff can recover compensation from the company as an employer of the truck driver. This is a better outcome for the plaintiff because the kinds of injuries that are sustained in accidents with trucks are often catastrophic and require more frequent or longer-lasting medical care.

Call Our Virginia Personal Injury Law Firm Today

If you have been injured in a truck accident, contact an experienced Virginia truck accident attorney to find out what legal recourse you may have against the party or parties responsible for the crash. Truck accident claims can be more complex than other types of vehicle accidents because there are often multiple at-fault parties that are responsible for financial damages victims may be entitled to. At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, our attorneys have extensive legal experience helping truck accident victims and are available to meet and discuss your case and how we can help.