Sleep deprivation is a major factor in many truck accidents across Illinois roads and highways. In fact, the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) estimates that approximately 100,000 vehicle accidents are the direct result of drivers falling asleep at the wheel. Unfortunately, when the accident is caused by a drowsy truck driver, the results are often catastrophic. In fact, sleepy truckers pose a significant driving risk to everyone sharing the roadway.
In many situations, truck drivers are fatigued because of the grueling hours and tight schedules they must maintain to ensure that their cargo reaches its destination on time. When time-constrained, the trucker is often operating their vehicle by routinely disrupting their sleep cycles or ignoring federally mandated laws designed to eliminate trucker fatigue. Federal laws regulated by FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) provide protocols, rules, and practices that restrict the number of hours truckers are allowed to drive.
The FMCSA’s annual Commercial Motor Vehicle Fact Sheet shows that over 3700 individuals lost their lives in another 88,000 suffered serious injuries caused by collisions with large trucks. That number rose even higher the following year. This upward trend in the increasing number of large truck accidents appears to have overlapping causes with driver fatigue. This is because driving tired is recognized as a singular cause in only approximately 15 percent of all fatigue-related truck accidents. Other concomitant causes include:
- Operating the vehicle at too fast.
- Driving while distracted due to talking on the phone, texting, reading emails, eating, or drinking.
- Driving while intoxicated or on heavy prescription and over-the-counter medications.
- Not adjusting the speed of the truck because of adverse weather conditions.
- Truck driving inexperience due to a lack of training.
Federally Mandated Hours of Service
Truckers are legally bound to follow the federally mandated hours of service. These rules are set forth to ensure truckers received the appropriate restorative sleep and rest required to drive safely at all times. The rules allow truckers to work no more than 14 hours each day of which only 11 hours maximum is available for driving. In addition, the trucker is required to remain off duty from any work for 10 consecutive hours before starting their next shift.
Violating the Hours of Service
Truck drivers are required by law to maintain a structured logbook that details every day’s hours of service. Any missing logbook or inaccuracy is a direct violation of FMCSA hours of service regulations. Truckers are required to place bills of lading and trip tickets in logbooks that detail each delivery made by the driver along with time stamps and noted entries by any third party that shows when the cargo was picked up, loaded, or delivered.
In addition, the trucker’s employer (the trucking company or truck owner) needs to monitor the trucker’s actual hours of service and ensure that the driver’s logs contain accurate information. Any repeated inaccurate logging of the driver’s hours of service exposes the trucker and trucking company to civil liability in a claim or lawsuit for compensation.
Proving Driver Drowsiness Caused the Accident
If you have suffered a serious injury or a loved one has died in a trucking accident caused by fatigue, you are likely entitled to file a claim for compensation. However, these types of cases can be extremely complex to litigate and often require the experience of reputable Chicago truck injury lawyers.
Protecting your rights to receive fair recompense requires quick action because all documents must be filed before the expiration of the Illinois statute of limitations concerning the case. Hiring a lawyer can help. The reputable fatigued truck driver accident case attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers will investigate the scene of the accident, the truck, logging records, maintenance documents, police reports, witness accounts, and every other piece of relevant evidence.
We use our experienced accident reconstruction experts to provide a clear and detailed picture that accurately describes what occurred. In many cases, we will file a claim or lawsuit citing multiple parties at fault for the accident that might include the truck driver, trucking company, truck manufacturer, roadway maintenance crews, tire supplier or others. We accept truck accident cases on contingency, so there is no need to pay a retainer or any upfront legal fees.