Last month’s deadly truck accident involving comedian Tracy Morgan has focused a spotlight on the issue of truck driver fatigue and truck accidents. We’ve discussed that case previously, but it’s worth mentioning that the seriously injured Saturday Night Live alum was recently able to leave the hospital. Unfortunately, his mentor James McNair was not so lucky, since he perished in the collision with a Wal-Mart truck. The sad fact is that truck driver fatigue tragically leads to fatal truck accidents like this on a regular basis, as many Missouri and Illinois victims know.
One economic expert claims that this is because trucks are often operated as “sweatshops on wheels” due to the pressure for truckers to maintain brutal schedules that meet deadlines which simply aren’t feasible — without breaking many of the federal guidelines governing truck driving safety. Unfortunately, too many drivers feel they have no choice but to break these laws in order to earn enough money to make ends meet.
This leads to truckers falsifying the logs that many keep on paper showing the hours which they work. Many will choose to forego the appropriate amount of sleep in order to keep up with the growing modern demand for overnight and speedy deliveries at any cost. The unfortunate truth is that even if some truck drivers refuse to fudge or outright break the rules to promote truck safety, there are too many others who are willing to risk their lives and the lives of innocent victims in order to get the job.
Some say that one problem is the fact that truckers are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. This means that employers are not required to give truckers overtime pay or meet other standards which would keep these workers from being unfairly exploited.
The trucking industry is notorious for being a highly competitive field, where profit margins are extremely low. This puts added pressure on truck drivers to meet unrealistic expectations when it comes to deadlines and driving while fatigued. Even independent truck drivers are not exempt from these dangers. If they aren’t willing to meet customer demands for speed, then they can lose out on jobs to other drivers or truck companies.
Federal regulators are said to be considering a requirement for truckers to install and use electronic logging monitors on their trucks. These electronic monitors are supposed to be much more difficult to falsify than paper driving logs. While these might help prevent some unsafe driving practices, they won’t prevent truck drivers from using chunks of their supposed rest time to perform unpaid tasks like waiting for trucks to be loaded and unloaded, going through required inspections, completing paperwork, or any of the other critical tasks related to driving for which they are not usually paid.
At the end of the day, it is unacceptable for truck driver fatigue due to preventable reasons to lead to fatal truck accidents which injure or even kill innocent victims. If you or a loved one have been injured in such an accident in Missouri or Illinois, please consider dialing our St. Louis personal injury law firm at 1-888-586-7041, toll-free, to discuss your situation. Personal injury and wrongful death laws often allow injured victims or their surviving relatives the opportunity to seek justice through the filing of a civil lawsuit. This can often result in monetary restitution that can help pay off unexpected expenses related to a truck accident, and act as another layer of justice for truck drivers or trucking companies which choose to ignore safety laws in the quest for larger profits.
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Source Article: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-levy-trucker-fatigue-20140716-story.html