There Is No Excuse for Fatigued Truck Driving

October 5, 2017 | By Polito & Harrington LLC
There Is No Excuse for Fatigued Truck Driving

Commercial truck drivers—drivers who man the 18-wheeler tractor-trailers that carry the bulk of America’s goods to their destination—are subject to considerable federal regulations regarding how long they can stay behind the wheel before they must take a break. Despite these regulations, commercial truck drivers often drive while fatigued.

Driver fatigue can be the result of a lack of adequate sleep, long work hours, strenuous activities both on and off the job, or a combination of these, as well as other factors. Drivers may be fatigued even when staying within regulations, which allow 11-hour stints behind the wheel before requiring the driver to take a break.

Driver Fatigue Often Is a Critical Factor in Accidents Involving Commercial Trucks

All of these factors that result in driver fatigue take a toll on driver performance. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that fatigue can cause shortfalls in driver performance, including slowed response times, lack of attention to the road, and bad decision-making by drivers. The NIH concludes that driver fatigue can result in an increased risk of crashes because of these fatigue-related decreases in performance. Overall, according to The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, of those accidents involving trucks, 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers were considered to have been fatigued at the time of their crash. Unfortunately, truck drivers have many incentives to stay on the road as long and as much as possible. They frequently are paid by the mile, encouraging driving as much as possible while complying with federal regulations, even when they feel tired and should rest. As evidenced in the studies, these fatigued drivers are more susceptible to poor decisions and driving errors. Serious driving errors by fatigued drivers, such as drifting across lanes, following another vehicle too closely, failing to signal lane changes, failing to brake in time, or other similar errors, can result in serious injuries or death.

There Are Steps You Can Take If You Are Involved in a Truck-Car Accident

There are several things that you can do if you are involved in an accident with a commercial truck that help to protect your rights, many of which start right at the scene of the accident and extending into the following days. These steps include:

  • Contact the police immediately
  • Photograph and document the scene of the accident to the extent possible
  • Obtain police reports
To determine whether driver fatigue is a factor and how that might affect your right to recovery, however, you may need to analyze data from the truck's electronic control system, examine the truck’s paperless log systems, analyze data from collision warning sensors, interview witnesses, and interview the truck drivers. These additional steps often require the assistance of experienced experts.

Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys of Polito & Harrington

While you can take the simple steps detailed above to safeguard your rights after a car-truck accident, building a case and recovering compensation may require experienced assistance such as that offered by Polito & Harrington. New London area residents can contact the attorneys of Polito & Harrington at (860) 447-3300.