Many safety advocates agree that one of the most dangerous issues in the trucking industry with regards to truck drivers is driver fatigue. It is estimated that more than 30 percent of all fatal truck crashes are caused by truck driver fatigue.
In 2014, a fatal truck accident involving actor and stand up comedian Tracy Morgan brought this issue into the public spotlight. Morgan was seriously injured and hospitalized after a Wal-Mart truck collided into the back of the limo van carrying the star and a few of his friends while driving on the New Jersey Turnpike. The driver of the Wal-Mart truck, who seconds before the collision had fallen asleep at the wheel, did not see the traffic in front of him and swerved and hit the back of the van.
This led to a multi-car pile-up including those who were unable to escape the domino effect of the collision. The driver of the truck pled guilty to vehicular homicide and four counts of aggravated assault. By pleading guilty, he avoided a possible 30-year prison term. Evidence in the case revealed that the truck driver had apparently been awake for almost 24 hours at the time of the accident. Morgan received a $90 million settlement for the injuries he sustained.
This highly publicized accident shed light on dangerous driving conditions that are created by the commercial truck driving industry and has brought the safety issues associated to the attention of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is in the process of investigating the accident.
The Trend of Driver Fatigue in Fatality Statistics
In the last few years, there has been an increase in the number of commercial truck accidents involving serious injuries and fatalities. It is estimated that there are about 4,000 deaths as a result of large-truck accidents. The largest contributing factor to these types of large-truck accidents is speeding, followed by driver fatigue.
Regulations to Combat Driver Fatigue in the Commercial Trucking Industry
In July 2013, new regulations were put into place to limit the maximum number of hours that a commercial truck driver is permitted to drive. The provisions brought down the previous maximum number of hours of truck driving from 82 hours to 70 hours per week. Once a driver reaches the maximum 70 hours of driving within that week, he is required to take a 34-hour continuous break; the driver is also limited in his ability to drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., and after an eight-hour shift, the driver needs to take a 30-minute break before resuming the drive. These provisions, though helpful in setting an industry standard for the number of consecutive hours that a commercial driver may be on the road, are not routinely followed, especially in light of truck drivers being paid by the mile and on strict delivery schedules.
Let a Truck Accident Attorney Help
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident involving a commercial truck driver, you may be able to assert your claim for damages that you sustained as a result of the accident. Large truck accidents are often fatal due to the massive size of the vehicle itself and can lead to more serious injuries and fatalities than motor vehicles of the same size. Please speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer in Harrisonburg, VA and find out how they can help.
Thanks to MartinWren, P.C. for their insight into personal injury claims and commercial truck driving fatalities.