Fatigued Truck Drivers Endanger Others on Virginia Roadways
Veteran Norfolk truck accident lawyers understand the dangers of driving while tired
Driver fatigue has been likened to drunk driving. When you add this problem to the prescription, over-the-counter, and illicit drugs some fatigued truck drivers use to remain awake, you have a recipe for disaster. Many studies have found that a driver who is tired poses the same accident risk as one who has consumed three or more alcoholic beverages. No matter what’s behind a driver's fatigue, if you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident caused by a fatigued or distracted driver, contact the seasoned team at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers for help.
Motor carriers put pressure on truckers to drive when they shouldn’t
Few motor vehicle accidents are quite as dangerous as truck accidents. While there can be a number of causes of truck accidents, truck driver fatigue is one of the top 10. Federal agencies say tired truckers cause about 500 fatal crashes every year. The reason why there are so many tired truckers is simple: Transporting goods is a highly competitive industry. To meet their demands, trucking companies often impose unrealistic schedules on drivers, forcing them to make an impossible delivery window to receive a paycheck.
Even though federal trucking laws prohibit truckers from driving for more than 11 consecutive hours without a break, many drivers cut corners to save time and ensure they’re paid. Fatigue can cause many drivers to:
- Falsify their log books
- Fall asleep at the wheel
- Use drugs to stay awake
- Speed or engage in reckless driving habits
Fatigued truck drivers are a menace on the roads of Virginia and North Carolina. All of these actions can contribute to a devastating truck accident.
Outlining the Federal Hours of Service Regulations For Truck Drivers
The Hours of Service rules are laid out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). They are meant to ensure fewer crashes are caused by the big rigs. These rules are an annoyance to many trucking companies which may seek to circumvent them and have challenged them in recent years.
Under the Hours of Service regulations truckers must:
- Drive no more than 11 hours after taking a 10-hour break;
- Not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty after being off duty for 10 hours.
- Take rest breaks and drive if eight hours or less passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least half an hour. There are short-haul exceptions to the rest break rule.
- Not drive after spending 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver can restart his or her 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off driving duty.
The Hours of Service regulations don’t go far enough for many safety groups. The Truck Safety Coalition claims powerful special interest groups in the trucking industry have restricted the scope of the rules. However, the need to keep records of driving hours to comply with these rules makes it easier to discover if a truck driver is in violation, although our Virginia trucking accident lawyers are well aware that these records are falsified on occasions.
Who is liable in a truck accident?
When you are involved in an accident with a fatigued truck driver, there can be a number of liable parties:
- The driver himself can be held liable for violating federal trucking laws.
- The company the trucker works for can be held liable for forcing its driver to meet impossible demands.
- A broker may be liable for the negligent hiring of a trucking company that fails to screen drivers for conditions that cause fatigue like sleep apnea or diabetes.
To determine liability in an accident involving driver fatigue, contact an experienced truck accident attorney from Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers. Partners John Cooper, Jim Hurley, and Bill O’Mara have decades of experience investigating these cases, proving liability, and winning large verdicts and settlements for their clients.
Trying to pursue a truck accident case alone is not advisable because it will pit you against the powerful interests of trucking companies, their insurance providers, and their attorneys. You deserve someone on your side who can match the opposition and fight tirelessly on your behalf, protecting your rights and holding every negligent party accountable.
To get the information and advocacy you need, contact our dynamic team
If you have been injured in a truck accident caused by a fatigued truck driver, please contact Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers by calling 757.455.0077 today to schedule a free consultation. We are proud to represent truck accident victims throughout the Hampton Roads area, and we have offices in Norfolk and client meeting locations in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton and on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Please make an appointment is you want to meet us away from our main office in Norfolk Our motto, “Your Injury, Our Fight,” holds especially true for families hurt by dangerous truckers all across Virginia, including the Eastern Shore and North Carolina.