The issue of fatigued driving among truck drivers is not new. Prior to the 1980s, truck drivers frequently pushed past the point of fatigue behind the wheel in an effort to increase their pay for the week. Many truck drivers turned to prescription or street drugs to stay awake during those long hours on the road. Some still do.
In an effort to curb the problems associated with fatigued truck drivers, the federal government promulgated a number of safety regulations aimed at preventing drowsy driving among truck drivers. Along with instituting mandatory drug and alcohol testing to decrease the use of drugs by truck drivers, rules that limit the number of hours a truck driver can spend on the road without rest were also established by the FMCSA.
Referred to as the “hours of service” (HOS) rules, these rules were recently modified in an attempt to further limit the likelihood of a truck driver driving while drowsy. Although the rules are complex and lengthy, they are generally focused on mandatory rest periods between driving and the total hours allowed behind the wheel during a seven-day period.
For example, a 10-hour rest period is required after a truck driver has been on the road for 14 hours, and a driver cannot accrue more than 60 hours behind the wheel in a seven-day period.
Despite these and other regulations, fatigued driving remains the cause of numerous tractor-trailer crashes every year in Washington State and across the country.
Truck Driver Fatigue
Drowsy driving generally encompasses any situation where a driver fails to pay complete attention to driving because he or she is sleepy, drowsy, fatigued or tired. Fatigued driving is a much more serious problem than many people realize. Experts have likened a drowsy driver to a drunk driver.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving plays a role in over 100,000 collisions each year. Many of these involve tractor-trailers, semis and other trucks.
Due to the long hours truck drivers spend on the road, they can be more susceptible than other drivers to the dangers of driving drowsy. Because truck drivers complete their own paper logbooks to show that they are in compliance with the FMCSA hours of service rules, the temptation to violate the rules can be great for a truck driver who is struggling financially.
Some trucking companies look the other way or actually put pressure on truck drivers to break the HOS rules in an effort to increase profits. The victims of tractor-trailer accidents caused by fatigued drivers are left to pay the price for some trucking companies’ quest to make more money.
Injured in a Crash Caused by a Tired Trucker? Our Yakima Accident Lawyers Can Help
If you have been seriously hurt in a Washington State truck or tractor-trailer accident and you believe that drowsy driving was a factor, contact the Yakima truck accident attorneys at the Mariano Morales Law Firm for a free claim evaluation.
Call us now at (509) 972-0493 or fill out our online contact form.