Given the immense size of commercial trucks, drivers need to exercise adequate care and caution to keep themselves and other drivers safe on the road. When truck drivers are fatigued, however, even the most experienced drivers could potentially cause a devastating collision.
To help protect truckers and passenger vehicle drivers, Virginia state and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established rules and regulations that limit the number of consecutive hours a trucker can drive on the road. Some drivers exceed these limitations, however, in order to make tight delivery deadlines or when traffic puts them behind schedule.
If you have been injured in a fatigued truck driving accident in Virginia, Barney Injury Law can help protect your rights. We can help you seek the compensation you need for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Contact us today by calling the office at 757-965-7200 or by using our contact form. We’re ready to meet with you at a free consultation to discuss your legal options.
Hours of Service Regulations
There are rules in place that limit the number of hours a commercial truck driver may be behind the wheel. According to the FMCSA, truck driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of large truck crashes.
The federal hours-of-service regulations were designed to help reduce driver fatigue and thus reduce truck accidents. According to the regulations, for example, a truck driver carrying property is allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours after they have had ten consecutive hours off duty. In addition, drivers must take a 30-minute break after driving eight cumulative hours.
Truck drivers may also not drive for more than 60 hours over seven consecutive days or 70 hours over eight consecutive days. The consecutive days can restart after a driver has had 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
After tighter hours of service rules were implemented in 2004, a study of long-distance drivers interviewed truck drivers before the rule change and after the rule change. The rule change should have reduced driving hours and driver fatigue. However, the survey found drivers were behind-the-wheel substantially more hours.
This is disturbing since an earlier study found two-thirds of truck drivers reported they routinely drove more than the maximum hours allowed.
Dangers of Fatigued Truck Driving
Fatigued truck driving is a significant factor in Virginia truck accidents. Fatigue can result when a truck driver doesn’t get enough sleep, when the quality of their sleep is poor, or when they’ve simply been on the road for too long.
Fatigue can actually impair driving in much the same way as alcohol, resulting in slowed reaction times, impaired judgment, and blurry vision. Fatigued drivers may:
- Nod off while driving
- Have slower reaction times to changing conditions
- Make poor decisions
- Drift out of their lane
- Get tunnel vision and lose a sense of what’s happening around the truck
- Experience microsleep lasting for a fraction of a second to up to 30 seconds
Compensation for a Fatigued Driving Accident
Truck drivers and trucking companies must follow regulations to ensure safety. They must also carry insurance policies to cover their risk.
If a fatigued truck driver injured you, you may be owed compensation to cover losses, such as:
- Medical expenses (past and future)
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- Property damage
- Lost quality of life
- Pain and suffering
An experienced truck accident lawyer will be able to help you determine the extent of the compensation you may be due, and they’ll work to gather crucial evidence to build your case.
Trucking companies often have experienced and skilled insurance adjusters and lawyers working to protect their assets. Don’t talk to an insurance adjuster before speaking with a truck driving accident attorney first. An attorney can uphold your rights and protect you from inadvertently saying something that could affect your case and your settlement.
How Barney Injury Law Can Help
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, know that you’re not alone, and help is available to you. Virginia Beach fatigued truck driving accident lawyer Scott R. Barney, Esq., has years of experience protecting people just like you who’ve been hurt by the negligence of truck drivers or the companies that employ them.
Our team will provide you with the personalized attention and responsive service you need and deserve. For a free case evaluation, call our offices at 757-965-7200 or reach out to us through our contact form.