A while ago, WITN-TV reported that a tractor-trailer driver died after a crash on Interstate 40 in Duplin County. The accident also resulted in a truck passenger being taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for treatment of critical injuries. Based upon its investigation, the North Carolina Highway Patrol believes that the tractor-trailer driver probably fell asleep behind the wheel.
Lack of Sleep Can Be Killer
It is well established that a lack of sleep causes drivers to have impaired vision and judgment, making it difficult for them to concentrate on the job of driving an 80,000-pound behemoth. The State University of New York published a study where truck drivers in their 30s and 40s were deprived of sleep for a significant time period. Sleep deprivation reduced the subjects’ driving performance to a level equivalent of being under the influence of alcohol.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has long concluded that fatigued tractor-trailer drivers place other motorists at significant risk for personal injuries and fatalities. Accordingly, the FMCSA has enacted regulations, known as “hours of service” rules, which limit the number of hours that truck drivers remain behind the wheel. The goal is to ensure that drivers get sufficient rest before hitting the roads. Unfortunately, some drivers—often encouraged by trucking companies trying to save money—do not abide by the rules and get behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer when they should be resting.
How ELDs Could Help
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that far too many drivers work longer than permitted under the FMCSA rules. Accordingly, the Institute believed that the government needed to require that all commercial trucks be outfitted with electronic logging devices that automatically monitor when the truck is being driven. These devices would replace the easily falsified handwritten logbooks that drivers currently used to keep track of their work hours.
In addition to the Insurance Institute, the Truck Safety Coalition also strongly urged that FMCSA mandate all trucks be equipped with ELDs as a way to save lives and prevent personal injuries from occurring due to truck-driver fatigue. The Coalition observed that, even when drivers adhere to the FMSCA hours-of-service rules, they are still pushed to their limits by regularly working 14 hours a day, including overnight runs, day after day. The Coalition didn’t believe it possible to keep up the required pace without putting the safety and well-being of other motorists at risk.
The FMSCA amended the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to require ELDs for every tractor-trailer in late 2015. This rule should prevent many accidents and save many lives.
Suing for Injuries
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a fatigued truck driver, you should contact an attorney experienced in handling North Carolina motor vehicle accidents as soon as possible. Tractor-trailer crashes can often be complicated. Moreover, insurance carriers for trucking companies are sometimes difficult to deal with. An attorney can investigate the circumstances of the accident and assist you in seeking compensation for your injuries, so talk to us at Rhine Law Firm, P.C.