When you are involved in a crash with a heavy commercial vehicle, fatigue may be a contributing factor. Truck drivers face immense pressure to meet tight delivery schedules and move as many loads as possible. As a result, they may be tempted to drive longer than federal regulations allow, leading to drowsy driving and an increased likelihood of causing a devastating collision.
You should not be responsible for the financial burden that someone else’s careless or reckless decisions have on your life. At Distasio Law Firm, our well-practiced team of lawyers has experience seeking compensation for those injured in fatigued truck driver accidents in Wesley Chapel. Call today to schedule a free consultation with one of our seasoned tractor-trailer collision attorneys.
Federal Regulations to Prevent Truck Driver Fatigue
The Federal Motor Carrier Act regulates truck drivers and sets strict guidelines on how many hours they can drive per day and how many consecutive days they can drive without taking a break. These rules and regulations are in place to prevent fatigued truck driver accidents, and they apply to all drivers in all cities, including Wesley Chapel, FL.
Dangers of Driving a Semi-Truck While Fatigued
Unfortunately, truck drivers often face pressure to work longer hours than they should. This is because they are paid based on the number of loads they can move, so they want to work quickly to earn more money. Trucking companies also put pressure on them to make deliveries faster. As a result, truckers tend to drive for longer periods than they should. This leads to fatigue—which can negatively affect anyone’s performance when driving.
Despite this, truck drivers believe they can keep driving at the same level as when they are fresh. This can cause problems when driving a large truck, as truckers may not react quickly enough to the environment around them, or they may even fall asleep at the wheel. Even if they do not fall asleep, though, they may still fail to perceive changes in traffic around them, leading to an accident.
Is It A Crime to Choose to Drive While Tired?
Technically, it is not a crime to drive while tired or overworked. However, it is a crime to drive recklessly in a way that endangers someone else’s life and causes death or significant bodily harm. In criminal cases, prosecutors use evidence to establish a pattern of wanton and willful conduct. This evidence can be used to prove that the driver’s behavior was severe enough to warrant criminal charges, even though driving while drowsy is not technically a crime in itself.
How Police Gauge A Trucker’s Level of Fatigue
It can be difficult to tell just by observing a truck driver if they are overly tired, as they may appear awake and alert in the moment. However, after a crash, law enforcement can use tools similar to those used in DUI exams to assess a trucker’s level of fatigue, such as by evaluating their appearance, ability to follow conversations, and overall coherence.
Fatigue can be a subtle thing that may not be obvious in interactions with the driver, so police officers may also examine the nature of the wreck and the trucker’s driving logs. Truck drivers are required to document their driving hours, breaks, and loads picked up, among other things. By examining these logs and considering the circumstances of the collision, law enforcement and lawyers in Wesley Chapel truck accident cases can determine if a driver was likely fatigued while driving.
Types of Accidents Commonly Caused by Drowsy Truck Drivers
Truck drivers tend to have difficulty paying attention to and reacting to their surroundings when they are overly tired. As a result, the most common types of accidents that occur involve rear-end crashes. These accidents can happen when the trucker fails to keep a safe distance from the car in front of them and collides into the back of it. Another scenario is when traffic slows down, and the truck driver fails to react in time, causing a rear-end collision.
In addition, fatigue can cause truck drivers to fall asleep at the wheel, resulting in crashes with cars ahead of them or even a sudden lane change that results in a sideswipe accident.
Liability for a Crash Caused by a Fatigued Trucker
A truck driver who causes a wreck due to driving while drowsy in Wesley Chapel will almost always be held legally accountable. However, suppose there is evidence that the trucker was fatigued due to driving more hours than allowed, not taking sufficient breaks, or driving for consecutive days. In that case, the trucking company employing the driver can be held responsible for not enforcing federal rules and regulations.
Discuss Fatigued Truck Driver Accidents with a Wesley Chapel Attorney
Ultimately, it is the duty of truck drivers to ensure they are not putting themselves or others on the road in danger. Likewise, it is the duty of trucking companies to monitor their employees and ensure they are following federal trucking guidelines. When either party fails to uphold their duty of care, they can be held liable for all an injured person’s financial, physical, and emotional losses.
When you or a loved one suffer serious damages in a wreck with a drowsy trucker, reach out to Distasio Law Firm. A skilled legal professional with experience handling cases involving fatigued truck driver accidents in Wesley Chapel is prepared to fight for your rights and demand comprehensive compensation on your behalf. Call now to get started.