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Truck Driver Fatigue and Motor Vehicle Accidents: What You Need to Know

April 22, 2020 – Matt Albrecht

Driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of preventable truck accidents in the United States. According to government data, nearly 15 percent of all truck accidents occur, at least in part, because the truck driver was overly fatigued. Truckers need rest. Fatigued driving is dangerous driving. Here, our Spokane truck accident attorneys explain the most important things you need to know about truck driver fatigue and the relevant federal regulations. 

Federal Law: Service Hour Limits for Truck Drivers

In 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) updated its Hours of Service (HOS) regulations to limit the amount of time a trucker can spend behind the wheel. The more stringent rules were passed in an effort to reduce fatigued driving. Here are three most important things to know about the HOS regulations: 

  1. A commercial trucker may drive a maximum of 11 total hours within a 24-hour period; 
  2. A trucker must complete their hours within a maximum driving window of 14 hours per 24-hour period; and
  3. A trucker cannot be on duty for more than 60 hours in a 7-day period or 70 hours in an 8-day period—depending on the status of their carrier. 

Beyond these service hours rules, truck drivers also have a general obligation to operate their vehicle in a safe manner. If a trucker is too tired to drive safely, they need to pull over and get some rest. 

Overly Fatigued Driving is Negligent Driving

The Sleep Foundation has found that driving while being awake for 24 hours straight is nearly the equivalent of drunk driving. The more tired the driver, the more dangerous the truck. A person who is tired loses their reaction time and decision-making ability. Worse yet, they may fall asleep. 

When fatigued drivers are behind the wheel—whether because the company is pushing their employees to complete an unreasonable schedule or the trucker is acting in an unsafe manner—there must be accountability.  

All Commercial Truck Accidents Require a Comprehensive Investigation

For injured victims, it is not so easy to know whether or not a fatigued truck driver caused their crash—especially if the truck came out of nowhere. A comprehensive investigation into a commercial trucking accident can uncover many important details that could suggest (or prove) fatigued driving, including: 

  • Admissions by the truck driver;
  • Testimony or statements from other parties;
  • Black box recording data, which may show some unusual movements consistent with a truck driver ‘dozing’ off;
  • Testimony regarding what the truck driver was doing during the previous 48 hours; and
  • Service hour records from the trucking company. 

If you were involved in a serious semi-truck accident in Eastern Washington, you should call an experienced Spokane attorney right away. The trucking company and its insurance company are not going to waste any time building its defense. Do not fall behind in the process. A lawyer can help. 

Get Help From Our Spokane, WA Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers Today

At‌ ‌Albrecht‌ ‌Law‌ ‌PLLC, our Washington truck accident attorneys are aggressive, diligent advocates for injured victims. If you were injured in a collision with a fatigued driver, we are here to help. To schedule a free, no obligation initial consultation, please contact us now at (509) 495-1246. From our office in Spokane, we handle the full range of motor vehicle accident claims in Eastern Washington. 

 

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