Driver fatigue is the cause of many of the accidents on the nation’s roads and interstates. Most often, these are truck accidents involving a driver that has been on the road too long and/or has been using substances to help stay awake. Truckers are under enormous pressure to deliver their loads in a timely manner. And because they are usually compensated by the load or mile, there is no financial incentive for them to stop and rest as required by law. When truck drivers push the limits of their physical capability, there is a far greater likelihood of an accident occurring. Crashes with these large trucks can cause major damage and serious injuries to those involved. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident involving a trucker who may have been on the road too long, it is important to seek the counsel of an experienced Chicago truck driver fatigue attorney with the resources and expertise to go up against the big trucking companies and their insurers.
Truck Driver Safety Standards
To avoid driver fatigue-related accidents, the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration (FMCSA) has laid out specific Hours of Service (HOS) guidelines that all commercial truck drivers involved in interstate commerce must follow. In general, this includes any vehicle that weighs 10,001 pounds (or higher), is transporting hazardous materials in certain quantities, or is designed/used to transport 9 or more passengers with compensation and 16 or more passengers without compensation.
The Hours of Service rule states the following:
- Truck drivers are not allowed to drive more than 11 hours in any 24 hour period.
- Truck drivers are not allowed to work more than 14 hours (between driving, loading and unloading) in any 24 hour period.
- The maximum average work week for truckers is limited to 70 hours.
- After the first eight hours of a shift, truckers are required to take a 30 minute break.
Truck drivers must keep detailed records of their hours on the road and rest periods in a log book. When an accident happens, a thorough investigation must be conducted involving a review of this log book, interviewing of witnesses, examining the trucker’s black box and several other actions to establish that driver fatigue may have been the cause. However, trucking companies are only required to keep these log books on file for six months, so time is always of the essence in getting to the bottom of what really happened.
If you have been injured or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident involving a commercial truck, it is important to take action as soon as possible to recover damages for your injuries. These cases are very complicated and often both the driver and the trucking company may be at fault. However, you can be sure that they will do everything they can to limit their liability and pay out as little as possible to those they have injured. At Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C., we have been representing victims of accidents resulting from driver fatigue in Chicago, Cook County, and throughout the country for over 20 years. We put our experience to work to aggressively pursue full compensation for our clients from all responsible parties. Contact a Chicago truck driver fatigue lawyer at HM&M today for a free consultation.