Driving a commercial truck is hard work. There are firm deadlines, a constant need for attentiveness, and life or death consequences if a driver makes a mistake. Many times, employers offer pay incentives for drivers who meet their deadlines. This, in turn, can inspire truck drivers to intentionally violate federal laws that mandate rests, breaks, and sleep time during each trip they take.
If you have been in an accident with a commercial truck and you have reason to believe the driver was suffering from exhaustion, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Commercial trucks can cause severe property damage and injuries
For many companies, eighteen-wheelers, tankers and semitrucks represent the fastest and most cost-effective means of transporting their goods or products to consumers or wholesalers. They can drive cross-country in a day or two, depending on whether there is a single driver or a team. This means that perishable goods, such as beer, milk, or produce, can travel and remain fresh from coast to coast. However, the size and weight of commercial trucks relative to passenger vehicles makes them a threat to safety for many on the roads. That threat increases when the drivers are distracted or exhausted.
Federal law mandates at least 8 or 10 hours of rest each night
In order to combat fatalities and serious injuries caused by commercial trucks, federal laws impose requirements for rest and breaks. For those carrying goods or property, they may only drive for eleven consecutive hours, with at least one half hour break for each eight hours on the road. They must have ten hours of rest before beginning their next full day of work. They must take a rest after fifteen hours on duty, even if they have not been driving consecutively for all that time.
For those transporting people, the law requires eight hours of rest, followed by no more than ten hours of consecutive work. They must rest after fifteen hours on duty, even if they have not driven for all fifteen hours. Because these laws can result in delays in shipping, some commercial drivers break the law by shortening their breaks and falsifying their work records. Doing so puts everyone on the road at risk.
An attorney can help you if you believe a commercial driver violated the law
If you or someone you love was injured in an accident caused by a commercial truck driver, speaking with an attorney is critical. They can help you determine if someone broke the law. An attorney can help you in a number of ways, from negotiating with insurers for a better settlement to filing a lawsuit against a driver, their employer, or their insurer.