Truck Driver Fatigue and Serious Crashes in Maine

Truck drivers routinely spend many hours behind the wheel of their commercial truck. These drivers are on the road for long stretches of time. Although they are supposed to take regular breaks prescribed by federal and state law, many push or exceed the limits in order to comply with tight schedules. Even if these drivers do stop for the required ten hour break, they usually park their trucks in a busy truck stop and sleep in a small berth in the cab of the truck. All of these factors contribute to drivers on the road who are fatigued, leading to many different dangers.

A driver who has not had enough rest may experience the following:

  • Confusion – loss of sleep has a profound impact on the ability of a person to process new information in the right manner;
  • Slowed reaction times – when being able to take one’s foot off the gas and slam it on the brakes is delayed, the result could be a devastating crash;
  • Bad decision-making – this may include turning to drugs as stimulants or alcohol as a means of getting rest, leading to increased fatigue; and
  • Reckless or aggressive driving.

If the driver has turned to drug use to stay awake while driving, the negative reactions and behaviors can be exacerbated.

The federal government, through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), has enacted hours-of-service (HOS) regulations to limit the number of hours that a driver can be on the road in order to decrease driver fatigue. These restrictions are based on accepted studies that reveal a fatigued driver may be as impaired as someone who has driven after taking drugs or drinking alcohol. Pursuant to these regulations, a driver is not permitted to drive for more than eleven hours in a fourteen-hour work period and must take a ten-hour break after working this many hours before being allowed to get back on the road. There are other regulations that require an eight-hour period of time spent in the sleeper berth in order to provide the most opportunity for the driver to get meaningful sleep.

There are many accidents that are caused by driver fatigue. In order to prove this type of case, it is necessary to perform a careful analysis of the driver’s log book. Although the paper version of these logs often can be altered to conceal violations of the HOS rules, an experienced truck accident attorney knows how to gather evidence to show that the truck driver exceeded the number of allowable hours on the road, including by looking at receipts demonstrating how the trip diverted from the details in the log. An electronic log may reveal more details, including communications with the trucking company following the accident that might reveal violations. Frequently, only an expert can retrieve these details from an electronic log through the assistance of the software from the manufacturer of the electronic recording devices.

Circumstantial evidence, such as behavior prior to the accident, braking distance, and any accident avoidance actions, may be used to demonstrate that the driver was impaired as the result of fatigue. An accident reconstruction expert may be critical in showing liability in a driver fatigue case.

Peter Thompson & Associates Fights for the Rights of Truck Accident Victims

There are more than three million “big rig” trucks on the roadways across the United States, including many in Maine. These trucks are part of an industry that makes money by pushing its drivers to their limits. When a person has been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, the injuries nearly always are severe. The hardworking and experienced truck accident attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates will sit down with you and evaluate your case. Then, we will get to work gathering evidence and building the best possible case to get you the compensation that you need to recover from the harm that was done to you. To schedule a free, initial consultation, call us at 800.804.2004.

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