Operating an 80,000 pound commercial truck can be a challenging task even under perfect conditions. Given the immense size and weight of these vehicles, drivers must exercise attentive control and precise adjustments in order to safely maneuver through traffic. Unfortunately, tight deadlines and immense pressure from trucking companies may sometimes prompt drivers to skip mandatory breaks and violate federal hours of service requirements, increasing their risk of falling asleep at the wheel and causing devastating collisions.
How Long Can Commercial Drivers Legally Drive?
The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has dictated that commercial drivers may work up to 14 hours per day and up to 70 hours per week, with a maximum of 11 drivable hours per day. In addition, drivers must take a mandatory 30 minute rest break for every 8 hours spent behind the wheel, as well as a 34 hour break after reaching the maximum weekly limit.
Violating these regulations can not only cause a disruption in a driver’s natural sleep-wake cycle and focus behind the wheel, but it can also cause a driver and their employer to be held liable for any damages they should inflict in the event of a collision. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drivers who are fatigued can have about as little control over their vehicles as intoxicated drivers.
Lack of rest can cause the following effects behind the wheel:
- Difficulty accurately gauging distances
- Drifting between lanes
- Failing to identify and avoid hazards
- Exhaustion-related hallucinations
- Reduced reaction times
What Compensation Can Injured Parties Seek?
In the event that a fatigued truck driver should cause a collision, injured parties may file a civil claim against the driver and/or their employer in pursuit of compensation for their resulting losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, costs of rehabilitation, reduced quality of life, and more. Since compensation will vary on a case-by-case basis, it is imperative that parties injured in tractor-trailer accidents contact a knowledgeable attorney to determine their exact range of compensation.
If you have been injured in a crash caused by a tired truck driver, contact Matzus Law LLC LLC today. Having been fighting for the injured for more than 20 years, our award-winning Pittsburgh truck accident lawyer has what it takes to assert your rights and maximize your potential compensation.