Preventable truck accidents take thousands of lives in the US every year. In 2018 alone, 4,862 trucks were involved in fatal traffic collisions, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Truck driver fatigue is a significant cause of catastrophic and fatal trucking accidents. Fatigue refers to extreme tiredness or exhaustion – a state that makes it unsafe to operate a commercial motor vehicle. If truck driver fatigue caused your recent accident, the trucking company may owe you compensation.
Causes of Driver Fatigue
Fatigue can occur when a truck driver drives past the accepted hours of service regulations. The FMCSA institutes hours of service regulations to improve the safety of long-haul trucking. These regulations prohibit commercial drivers from exceeding 11 hours on-duty after 10 hours off, as well as exceeding 14 consecutive hours of driving in a single day. Drivers must also take driving breaks after a certain number of hours on the road. Ignoring or breaking these regulations is a common cause of fatigued driving accidents.
Truck drivers are also more likely to drive fatigued due to the nature of the job. Long hours spent alone on the road can increase the risk of drowsiness. Some truck drivers turn to stimulants to stay awake, such as coffee, energy drinks or drugs, only to experience a dangerous drop in energy later. Finally, truck drivers are prone to sleep apnea and other sleeping problems due to strange sleeping schedules, obesity, poor health habits and smoking. Sleep apnea can interrupt a good night’s rest and increase fatigue during the day.
What to Do If Fatigue Is the Suspected Cause of a Truck Accident
A truck accident involving a fatigued driver could be catastrophic for victims. Drowsy driving collisions often include speeding, lack of braking and a driver crossing a median into opposite-direction traffic. These are circumstances that can exacerbate the severity of a truck accident in Michigan. If you were injured in a truck accident and believe truck driver fatigue played a role, take certain steps to protect your rights.
- Call the police.
- Remain at the scene of the wreck.
- Do not admit fault.
- Speak to eyewitnesses.
- Take photographs.
- Get the truck number and driver’s information.
- Go to the hospital.
- Keep copies of medical records and accident reports.
- File your initial insurance claim with the truck driver’s insurer.
- Contact a truck accident lawyer in Kalamazoo and SW Michigan for claims assistance.
An attorney who specializes in truck accidents could help you investigate the accident and obtain evidence of truck driver fatigue. Information from the truck’s black box, for example, could show proof of speeding or lack of brake use, while an electronic logging device could show that the driver exceeded his or her hours of service regulations. A Kalamazoo and SW Michigan can gather key evidence for a case against the driver or company on your behalf.
Who Is Responsible If a Driver Is Fatigued?
Michigan is a no-fault car accident state. This makes it necessary for injured crash victims to document and contact an experienced and well-versed counselor before attempting to recover any compensation. You may assume a truck driver would be liable for an accident caused by truck driver fatigue. While it may have been the driver who specifically caused your crash, the rules of vicarious liability make the driver’s employer liable for your damages. Thus, trucking companies are responsible for truck driver fatigue, in most cases.
It is a trucking company’s responsibility to properly train its drivers, including requiring them to obey the FMCSA’s hours of service regulations. Truck companies should not encourage their drivers to exceed the number of accepted hours on the road to make deadlines or meet goals for bonuses. These are examples of negligence that could make the trucking company responsible for a related wreck. The company could also be vicariously liable for the negligence of its truck drivers – including a driver who drives while fatigued.
You can Contact Us here, or call 269-679-4263 for help determining whether or not there is a case for an accident caused by truck driver fatigue in Kalamazoo and SW Michigan.