Driving while you’re sleepy, drowsy, or simply too tired is never a good idea. When you’re exhausted, you’re more likely to make mistakes behind the wheel, experienced delayed reaction times, have sluggish reflexes, or simply may just fall asleep. These can all lead to catastrophic injuries and even death. It should come as no surprise that driver fatigue is a contributing factor to many commercial truck driver accidents each year. Attorneys Gary J. Douglas and Michael A. London know just how deadly these collisions can be.
The New York, NY attorneys at Douglas & London would like to go over some of the dangers of driver fatigue in commercial trucking. While there are safeguards in place for truck drivers and other motorists, tragedies still happen.
Driver Fatigue in Commercial Trucking
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that approximately 13 percent of all commercial vehicle drivers involved in crashes experienced some level of drowsiness. This makes sense given the long hours spent behind the wheel.
For commercial truck drivers in particular, they’re often on the road at night, and asked to travel hundreds of miles back and forth. This can take its toll on a person, and contribute to bouts of fatigue and drowsiness even among safe, attentive commercial drivers.
The 2014 Tracy Morgan Truck Accident
The most high-profile case of commercial truck driver fatigue in recent years is the 2014 traffic collision that involved actor/comedian Tracy Morgan. Just after 1:00 am on June 7, 2014, a Walmart tractor-trailer on the New Jersey Turnpike caused a collision that resulted in catastrophic injuries to Morgan as well as the death of his friend and fellow comedian James McNair.
There had been claims that the truck driver had spent 24 hours without sleep, and preliminary investigations found that the driver was very close to the legal limits of time that a commercial vehicle driver can spend behind the wheel on a given day. Morgan sued Walmart, and the case was settled for an undisclosed amount in May 2015.
Truck Drivers Must Follow Hours of Service Regulations
To prevent accidents like this from happening, the FMCSA has Hours of Service regulations in place. These regulations are intended to limit the amount of time a driver can spend behind the wheel in a week and in a day. In addition, these regulations require truck drivers to take mandatory breaks and take time off between drives if they have worked a large number of hours. Sadly, even with these regulations in place, driver fatigue collisions still occur.
Trucking Companies Must Consider Reasonable Hours
The onus isn’t only on truck drivers. Trucking companies need to be reasonable when it comes to the routes their drivers are sent on, as well as the expected times that their drivers are on the road. Overworking drivers or demanding too much from them is likely to cause driver fatigue, setting the stage for collisions the could have been avoided.
Contact Douglas & London
For more information about your legal rights following a collision with a commercial truck, be sure to contact our New York City law firm. The auto accident lawyers of Douglas & London are here to help. You can reach our office by phone at (212) 566-7500.