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Truck Driver Fatigue and How It Can Affect Your Case

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Posted By DAM Firm | September 15 2021 | Truck Accidents

Truck Driver Fatigue and How It Can Affect Your CaseCommercial truck drivers have to follow very strict guidelines set forth by federal and state regulators. One of the most important regulations involves the hours of service. Truck drivers are limited when it comes to how many hours they can operate their vehicles each day and throughout each workweek. We want to discuss why hours of service requirements are crucial to combating truck driver fatigue. We also want to discuss how truck driver fatigue can lead to severe accidents and why this can affect a commercial truck accident claim. 

How Does Truck Driver Fatigue Cause California Truck Accidents?

Nobody should operate a vehicle while fatigued. This includes those behind the wheel of traditional passenger vehicles as well as those operating commercial vehicles in California. However, operating a large semi-truck while fatigued is incredibly dangerous. These vehicles can weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds, which means that a crash often results in significant injuries and property damage.

The reality is that the very nature of a truck driver’s job leads to increased risks of fatigued driving. This can be due to:

  • An erratic sleep schedule
  • Performing monotonous tasks
  • Improper use of prescription or over the counter medications
  • Poor sleep or a lack of sleep
  • Violation of the hours of service requirements

Operating a vehicle while fatigued can slow down a truck driver’s reaction times. Fatigued drivers may fail to notice changing roadway conditions or traffic conditions. A tired truck driver can even fall asleep behind the wheel.

Understanding the Hours of Service Requirements for Truck Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for regulating the hours of service for truck drivers. In general, drivers of commercial trucks in this country are only allowed to operate a certain amount of hours each day and during the workweek. The FMCSA requirements are as follows:

  • Truck drivers can operate for 11 total driving hours during a 14-hour driving window, but only after being off duty for ten consecutive hours. The additional hours inside the 14-hour driving window have to be spent for naps, meal breaks, restroom breaks, or other breaks.
  • Drivers are required to take a 30-minute break if they have been operating a truck for more than eight consecutive hours.
  • Truck drivers can operate for 60 hours during a seven-day workweek or 70 hours during an eight-day workweek.

Proving an Hours of Service Violation

Proving an hours of service violation can be challenging, but it is crucial if a large truck crash occurs. Fatigued driving is a leading cause of accidents involving large commercial trucks. Any person injured in a truck accident needs to work with a skilled lawyer who can conduct an independent investigation into these cases. There are various types of evidence that can be gathered to prove that a truck driver was fatigued at the time that a crash occurred. This can include:

  • The truck driver’s electronic logging device (ELD)
  • The truck’s electronic control module (ECM)
  • Statements from eyewitnesses to the crash
  • Photographs or video surveillance of the incident
  • Truck company safety records
  • Truck driver traffic violation history
  • Police reports
  • Mobile device data
  • Weigh station receipts/checks

A truck accident lawyer in Orange County will gather all the evidence necessary to help prove liability for these incidents. They will also engage in all negotiations with insurance carriers and trucking companies to help ensure that their client recovers the compensation they are entitled to.

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