Fatal accidents due to truck driver fatigue growing problem
Truck driver fatigue is a common danger on the roads in Missouri, Illinois, and throughout the country. The federal government takes this risk seriously. U.S. regulations have been established which govern the number of hours commercial drivers can work. These laws must be followed by both truck drivers and the companies which employ them. Unfortunately, sometimes these regulations appear to be ignored in an effort to increase profits, and truck driver fatigue can lead to serious or even fatal truck accidents.
It is not yet clear whether this is the case with a recent fatal truck accident which took place on U.S. 64 in Clinton County, Illinois, but initial reports have indicated that the semi swerved for some time before it smashed into the support of a concrete bridge. A 27-year-old truck driver from another state was behind the wheel at the time of the crash. A second driver, age 54, was a passenger believed to be riding in the truck’s sleeper cabin when the wreck occurred. That man was flung from the semi and later discovered pinned beneath the wreckage.
Both drivers perished in the catastrophic collision. Illinois State Troopers have reported that, just before the 5:50 a.m. crash, the tractor-trailer had been witnessed weaving all along the highway before it veered off the road and then careened into the concrete bridge support. The impact was so severe that it toppled the semi onto its side and actually split the trailer apart. The trailer’s cargo, which consisted of aluminum spools, spilled out onto the nearby highway.
An investigation into this deadly accident is ongoing, and it remains to be seen whether driver fatigue will be discovered to have played a role in this particular case. However, some have indicated that driver fatigue is one of the biggest — if not the biggest — dangers on American roadways when it comes to commercial truck driving.
Federal regulations dictate that commercial drivers may not operate motor vehicles while their ability or alertness are so affected by fatigue, sickness or any other factor that it would be unsafe for them to continue driving. Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (F.M.C.S.R.) requires that drivers keep logs that detail their duty status over a 24-hour period. Drivers must maintain them for at least a week — and the motor carrier for which they drive must then keep those records for a six-month timeframe.
Commercial drivers transporting cargo are limited to 11 hours of driving at a time, and that period must follow at least 10 hours of consecutive off-duty time. They may not be on duty for more than 70 hours over a consecutive, 8-day period if the carrier for which they drive has a commercial vehicle in its employ on each weekday.
Statistics show, however, that both drivers and carriers often either ignore these rules or take outright steps to get around them by falsifying driver log data. Even carriers which may not have direct knowledge of a driver falsifying his or her logs are expected to take precautions to make sure drivers are being honest. For instance, some lawsuits have established that carriers have a duty to check driver logs against other work documents, such as fuel receipts, toll payment receipts or on-board software, to verify that log information is accurate.
In instances where Missouri or Illinois victims have been injured or killed in truck accidents believed to be caused by truck driver fatigue, either they or surviving relatives have the right to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in a civil court. A successful claim for damages will often lead to the award of medical, funeral or even pain and suffering compensation in the form of monetary restitution. While nothing can bring back a lost loved one, this can help serve as a pointed reminder to truck drivers and motor carrier companies that they must abide by the federal regulations meant to protect innocent people who share the roadways. My St. Louis personal injury law firm offers free consultations to those who have been injured due to suspected truck driver fatigue. Please call 1-888-586-7041 as soon as possible to schedule an initial meeting to discuss your case, which we may be able to accept on a contingency basis where we will collect no fees until and unless we obtain compensation for you.
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Source Article: “Two truck drivers killed in semi crash on I-64” by Scott Wuerz, from the News-Democrat. Also “Uncovering Truck Driver Fatigue” article.