Driver Fatigue and Motor Vehicle Accidents

Fatigue may cause drivers to be inattentive or fall asleep while driving, which can result in serious motor accidents. According to the 2005 Sleep in America Poll, over half of all adults admitted to driving while drowsy and more than one-third admitted to falling asleep while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims that over 100,000 motor accidents annually are caused by driver fatigue. Fatigue puts lives at risk, and there are certain legal implications in these situations.

Who is At Risk?

People whose work involves driving, such as truck drivers, are at a higher risk for driver fatigue because they spend long hours behind the wheel. Additionally, young adults between the ages of 18 to 29 are more likely to have a sleep related motor accident according to the National Science Foundation (NSF), and men are at a higher risk than women. Shift workers and people who suffer from sleep disorders also have a higher risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. Finally, those who sleep less than eight hours a night may be two to four times more likely to have a driver fatigue related accident according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Hours of Service Rules

The hours of service rule is a federal regulation stating that truck drivers must obtain necessary rest prior to driving. The law also states that truck drivers may work a maximum of 14 hours per day and drive a maximum of 11 hours daily. Drivers must not work for at least ten hours between shifts and they can’t drive after working for 60 hours in a week or 70 hours in eight days. People involved in an accident with a truck driver may be entitled to compensation from the driver and trucking company if the employee violated this rule.

Hours of Service Violations

People may determine whether a trucking company violated the hours of service rules by obtaining a copy of a truck driver’s log. According to federal law, truck drivers must add all of their driving information in these logs. If logs are missing or inaccurate, it’s possible to determine how long they were behind the wheel by reviewing their trip tickets or each delivery they made a week prior to the accident. These trip tickets, sometimes called bills of lading, include time stamps by third parties. The trucking company may also be monitored to determine whether drivers are mis-logging their hours, which would make the company liable for a lawsuit.

Legal Implications

Driving while fatigued has serious consequences that may result in jail time for the offenders and compensation for crash victims. Truck companies and their employees who violate the hours of service rules are especially liable in an accident. In these situations, legal representation may assist crash victims to determine whether they are eligible for a lawsuit. For information about driver fatigue and motor accidents, call today or fill out our online contact form. Jacobs Law will be in touch to help you get the answers you need.

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