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Big Rigs and Driver Fatigue: Risky Business

Posted on September 16, 2016

By Daryl Gray

Big Rigs and Driver Fatigue: Risky Business

No one wants to be involved in a car accident, but the thought of being involved in an accident with a big rig is downright frightening. Commercial vehicles, including large trucks, are so substantial and can cause so much damage that special laws apply to them. One area of strict regulation aims to prevent truck driver fatigue.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx reports that “[n]early 4000 people die in large truck crashes each year, and driver fatigue is a leading factor.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) aims to improve the safety of accidents involving large trucks. As part of its mission, the FMCSA has implemented hours of service (“HOS”) regulations, which large truck drivers must follow. While the regulations are somewhat complex, here’s the gist:

  • Drivers may drive no more than 11 hours after they have been off duty for at least 10 hours;
  • Long-haul drivers must take at least one 30-minute rest break in the first 8 hours they are on duty; and
  • Drivers may not drive more than 70 hours in an average maximum week.

The goal is to ensure that drivers are alert on the road. Research has shown that long work hours without sufficient rest negatively impairs driving ability. Unfortunately, however, some drivers do not abide by the regulations.

One high-profile lawsuit involving alleged truck driver fatigue was brought by comedian Tracy Morgan in 2014. Morgan was badly injured when a minibus he was riding in was hit by a driver of a Walmart tractor-trailer. Others were also injured, and one of the minibus passengers died. Morgan’s complaint alleged that the Walmart driver had not slept for longer than 24 hours and that he had exceeded the 11-hour driving cap. Wal-Mart eventually settled the case.

An accident with a large truck can easily be tragic, causing substantial property damage and injuries, as well as long-term emotional and physical consequences. If you or a loved one were injured as a result of an accident with a large truck, you may be entitled to compensation. For a free case evaluation, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Gray Law Group, LLC: (504) 264-5552.