Fatigued Truck Driver Accidents in Philadelphia
Tired Drivers Cause Accidents. Tired Truckers Cause Catastrophes.
When it comes to truck accidents, one of the leading contributing factors is driver fatigue. If you’ve ever spent hours on the road, you likely know the challenge of staying focused despite the monotony. Truckers, who may spend up to a week on the road with few breaks, are just as susceptible to making tired mistakes as any other driver.
Whether fatigued truck drivers may endanger others isn’t a question. The government created Hours of Service regulations to prevent truckers from pulling unsafe driving shifts. However, for a multitude of reasons, drivers may get behind the wheel (or stay behind it) when they’re not awake enough to drive safely.
If you've been injured in an accident caused by a tired truck driver, get help from The Beasley Firm today!
How Fatigue Affects Truck Drivers
Driving fatigued can at times be as dangerous as drunk driving. Anyone who gets behind the wheel after 18 hours without sleep is operating at the same level as a driver with a BAC of .05% (for reference, truck drivers in Pennsylvania cannot drive with a BAC above .02%). Like alcohol, fatigue can affect drivers’ abilities and decision-making skills.
A tired driver:
- Has slower reaction times
- Is less capable of assessing situations quickly
- Cannot accurately gauge their exhaustion
The Danger of Microsleeps
Fatigue can lead to drowsiness, mistakes, and periods of inattention, all of which can cause a crash. However, the scariest effect of fatigue may be microsleeps. Exhausted individuals may experience unplanned and involuntary episodes of unconsciousness, where they cannot respond to external stimuli. Microsleeps may last anywhere from a fraction of a second to 15 seconds. They can be caused by a single night of poor sleep (less than 4 hours), a schedule that breaks with your body’s natural rhythms, or extended engagement in a monotonous task—like highway driving. Truck drivers are at a high risk of these episodes, especially those who drive at night to avoid traffic.
Why Truckers Drive While Fatigued
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found 24% of truckers admitted to “often” driving despite fatigue, bad weather, or heavy traffic. Even if we can trust that percentage accounts for all truckers who make this decision—and it’s likely some of the surveyed individuals lied about their habits—that’s still 1 driver of every 4 who may be putting themselves and others in danger.
Unfortunately, some drivers feel they have no choice but to operate their vehicle despite dangerous conditions. Trucking companies are known for setting near-impossible timetables for trips, where they don’t account for common complications like heavier-than-usual traffic. Drivers may have to put in extra hours even when they’d rather not, just to avoid missing a delivery.
Financial pressure is another common cause of driver fatigue. Many truckers are paid per mile driver rather than hourly. Truckers who face heavy setbacks on the road may have to choose between complying with regulations or being able to pay their bills.
Hours of Service and Driver Fatigue
The regulations most likely to come up in a truck accident case are the Hours of Service rules. As the name suggests, these regulations limit the amount of time a trucker can spend on the job per day and per week. The rules state:
- Truckers may drive a maximum of 11 hours after spending 10 consecutive hours off-duty (in other words, 10 hours in a row).
- These 11 hours must be driven within 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty. Additional breaks do not extend the 14-hour time limit.
- Truck drivers must take a break of at least 30 minutes after hitting the 8-hour driving mark. Some exceptions may apply to this rule.
- In an “on-duty” period of 7 or 8 days, truckers may not drive more than 60 or 70 hours, respectively. Once they hit their limit, a driver must take 34 or more consecutive hours off-duty before they can drive again.
You don’t need to worry about learning these rules if you’re working with an experienced truck accident firm like ours. We know them inside and out and can tell you when and how they might apply to your case.
Investigating Cases of Driver Fatigue
For truckers, who rely on having a good driving record to keep their job, it may be easier to lie about the cause of an accident rather than admit guilt. However, our attorneys can still uncover information about potential driver fatigue by investigating the accident.
First, we can request the driver’s log, where they record the time they spent on duty. It’s easy to analyze this data to see whether they were complying with the Hours of Service regulations in their latest work period. While it’s possible to manipulate this information, our attorneys know how to examine forensic data for signs of tampering. We can also request the schedule set by their employer, to determine whether it was reasonable or whether the driver was likely pushing their limits to make the run in the allotted time.
Many trucking companies also have in-cab recorders that monitor drivers for signs of distraction or fatigue. Our attorneys can request a copy of this footage and analyze it, bringing in outside experts if necessary to get a read on the driver’s behavior. Finally, we can look for evidence like text messages in which they told friends or loved ones they were tired.
Whether you can hold a company liable for truck driver fatigue often comes down to whether the at-fault driver was working as an independent contractor or as an employee at the time of the accident. No matter who is at fault, though, you will need strong evidence and a skilled attorney to argue your claim. Our lawyers are here to advocate for you in a fatigued driver case.
Start Your Claim Today
Truck accidents often cause serious, life-changing injuries. If you are in this situation because of a careless or fatigued driver, you deserve full compensation for your losses. The Beasley Firm can help you maximize your compensation and argue your case in court if that’s what it takes to get you the help you deserve.
Our lawyers have been serving our community since 1958, and in that time, we’ve won more than $2 billion for accident victims. We are here to fight for you in your case against a fatigued truck driver. Our team has helped the victims of many accidents involving large trucks secure compensation to help them move forward. Ask us today how we can help you.
Schedule a free consultation with one of our truck accident lawyers by calling us at (215) 866-2424.
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