Truck Wreck Accidents caused by Driver Fatigue
Both federal and state laws regulate the number of hours a truck driver can operate his or her vehicle. These regulations are designed to ensure drivers remain alert, especially when driving long distances. At Rhine Law Firm, P.C., we represent those injured in serious motor vehicle accidents caused by truck driver fatigue. From our office in Wilmington, we represent clients injured on I-40, I-95 and other highways throughout North Carolina.
What Causes Truck Driver Fatigue?
Truck driver fatigue has many causes. Truckers may be under pressure to meet unrealistic deadlines. Alternatively, some companies offer premiums to drivers for delivering ahead of schedule, leading some drivers to rush or ignore required rest times.
Quite often, the investigation into what caused an accident requires looking at the truck driver’s logbook. If companies do not check logs or time cards to ensure drivers are following the rules for resting, they can be held accountable. Dishonest drivers who tamper with their log times or falsify them can also be held personally liable should an accident occur.
Federal Regulations: Hours of Service Violations and Truck Accident Claims
One of the critical points regulated by the agency is the hours of service (HOS) rules for truck drivers. For the regulations to work and to lead to higher levels of safety for others sharing the streets, roads, and highways, the driver must adhere to these regulations – but do they? Only an investigation into the facts will reveal whether a truck driver has violated federal HOS regulations. The rules are as follows:
- 11 hour driving limit after 10 hours off duty.
- May not operate the truck beyond the 14th consecutive hour of coming on duty.
- Rest breaks are mandatory.
- May not operate truck after 60 hours on duty in seven consecutive days.
- May not operate truck after 70 hours on duty after 8 consecutive days on duty (after 34 or more hours off duty).
Trucks are outfitted with a “black box,” like commercial aircraft. This is a data recorder, called an “electronic control module.” It tracks speed history, excessive RPM, pre-crash data such as when an automatic collision notification system is activated, the vehicle system data prior to the crash, and a range of other data. This information is often a critical piece of evidence in proving a driver was tired and violated federal hours of service regulations. The black box data can reveal that a driver drove hours beyond what was allowed – putting innocent people in harm’s way.
We have used other sources of evidence to prove violations of hours of use. For example, we have used information from unusual places to prove a vehicle was being used at a particular time and date, including speeding tickets, parking receipts, toll booth receipts and the like.
Truck Accident Statistics: The Shocking Truth
In the most recently reported year, the FMCSA reports 411,000 large truck crashes, with 3,424 resulting in at least one fatality, and 82,000 (20 percent) in at least one non-fatal injury. It is difficult to imagine the scope of this nationwide issue, but to put it in perspective, in North Carolina in the same year there were a total of 27 single vehicle fatal truck accidents, and 82 fatal truck accidents that involved multiple vehicles. These are just the accidents that involved at least one death, or about one every three days occurring somewhere in the state.
The number of injuries that year, per the North Carolina Department of Transportation, was a total of 2,482 (includes all sizes of commercial trucks), or almost seven people injured per day. If you or a family member has been injured in such an accident, get legal help you can trust to help you fight for justice and full compensation.
Investigating these issues requires an experienced hand. Our trucking accident lawyers have decades of experience navigating the complexities of injury claims. We will bring in the appropriate forensic experts, accident reconstruction engineers and medical professionals as needed to maximize the amount of your claim.
We are fully prepared to represent your interests in court, though our thorough preparations often mean success at the negotiating table. If you or a loved one has been injured by truck driver negligence of any kind, put an experienced advocate on your side.
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Proven Truck Accident Case Results
At the Rhine Law Firm, P.C., our goal is to help commercial trucking accident victims obtain the maximum compensation available to help get their lives back on track.
When you consult our firm, we will go to work investigating your circumstances and collecting evidence to build a powerful case on your behalf. We understand the tactics used by truck companies and their insurers to avoid liability, and our personal injury lawyers are fully prepared to help you obtain the compensation you are entitled to under the law.
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