Driving while fatigued may be as impairing as driving while drunk. Drowsy driving is always dangerous, but especially when the fatigued driver is a commercial trucker who operates a vehicle that may weigh as much as 80,000 pounds.
Unfortunately, truck driver fatigue is a major problem and may only be getting worse. Business Week reports that there is a significant shortage in qualified truckers and thus trucking carriers may pressure drivers to work for long hours to get the loads delivered where they need to go.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict rules in place limiting the number of hours that truckers can drive. These rules are designed to prevent overworked and overtired truckers from continuing to operate their vehicles.
Unfortunately, North Carolina truck accident lawyers know that not every truck driver obeys the rules and stays within the driving limits. When a driver violates FMCSA regulations, this can create the presumption that the trucker was negligent and thus may allow plaintiffs to file a lawsuit against the driver and/or trucking company without specifically proving that the trucker was unreasonably careless.
While victims can sue if they get hurt in truck accidents, it is always better to prevent collisions before they occur. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has now proposed a new rule requiring electronic monitoring of trucker hours. This rule would make it more difficult for truckers to be dishonest about their hours on the road.
Electronic Monitoring System Could Save Lives
Truck drivers must keep written logs of the hours that they are on duty. These logs can be reviewed to determine if the rules are being followed. Unfortunately, since drivers can enter the information manually themselves, they may not always be honest about either the number of hours that they drive or when they drive.
When the FMCSA changed the hours-of-service rules, the agency required that drivers take a 34 hour rest break after operating their truck for either 60 hours over seven days or 70 hours over an eight day period of time. The rest break must include two periods between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. so truckers can get a good night sleep. Unfortunately, some have objected to this new requirement because it imposes strict limitations and could force truckers to be on the road at higher traffic times. This alone could create the incentive for truckers to be dishonest in their logs of on-duty time.
Electronic monitoring would eliminate the ability for truckers to lie, because the electronic devices would keep track of when the vehicle was in operation. This could also cut down on the paperwork that truckers need to do.
The American Trucking Association has expressed support for the new proposed electronic monitoring rules. Many companies have already voluntarily adopted electronic monitoring with great success and a mandate for all carriers would level the playing field.
The FMCSA also suggests a mandate would save lives. According to Fox News, as many as 20 deaths and 434 injuries from truck accident collisions could reportedly be prevented if the proposed rule goes into effect.
Contact the Asheville injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Compulsory Medical Exam Following a Charlotte Car Accident, March 23, 2014, Asheville Car Accident Lawyer Blog