How Common Is Truck Driver Fatigue in Virginia Truck Accidents?

Americans are tired. Most of us can admit that we do not get enough hours of sleep every night. In fact, according to studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of all adults do not get enough sleep on a regular basis. This means there are a lot of fatigued drivers out there on the roads.

Fatigued driving is dangerous enough in a passenger vehicle, but it can be an absolute nightmare when the fatigued driver is operating a massive tractor-trailer. The CDC has also concluded in studies that being awake for more than 17 consecutive hours has the same effect on a person’s physical and cognitive processes as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 percent. If someone is awake for more than 24 hours, their impairment is equivalent to having a BAC of 0.10 percent. Many commercial truck drivers can spend anywhere from 11 to 14 hours just driving, creating situations where some truck drivers get so exhausted, they actually fall asleep while they are driving their vehicle. A sleeping driver operating an 80,000-pound vehicle is the cause of far too many catastrophic truck accidents.

Hours of Service

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the agency that oversees trucking companies and truck drivers. Among the many rules and regulations they have put in place are the Hours of Service (HOS) rule which stipulates how many hours a truck driver is allowed to be on the road. According to the HOS, truck drivers can only operate a maximum of 11 hours after they have had at least 10 consecutive hours off duty. They may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.

Unfortunately, not all trucking companies and truck drivers adhere to these rules. Trucking companies put a lot of pressure on truck drivers to meet almost impossible delivery schedules. This sometimes leads to drivers disobeying the HOS limit in order to meet those schedules. There are even instances where companies encourage – or even force – truck drivers to violate these rules.

The FMCSA also requires truck drivers to keep logbooks of all their driving/rest/break times. In the past, these logbooks were paper, and all information was entered manually. This made it easier for truck drivers to falsify their driving hours if they had exceeded the allowed number. Today, more and more trucks are equipped with electronic logbooks that make falsifying records much harder. Unfortunately, HOS violations continue to be a problem and the number of fatigued truck driver crashes continues to rise.

Contact a Virginia Truck Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in any type of truck accident, contact a Virginia truck accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have. Truck accident cases can be complex, and it is not uncommon for there to be multiple at-fault parties who are responsible for the payment of financial damages you may be entitled to for your injuries. Our personal injury firm has successfully represented many injured victims and their families and we are happy to meet with you and offer legal guidance on what the best options may be for your circumstances. Call Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp today to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation.