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Truck Driver Fatigue Poses a Roadway Threat

Driver Fatigue Can Lead to Deadly Truck Accidents

Drowsy driving is a dangerous practice for any driver; per the NHTSA, drowsy driving caused 44,000 injuries in 2013. When people get behind the wheel without sufficient sleep, their decision-making may be nearly as impaired as if they are drunk or distracted. When truck drivers drive drowsy, the effects are compounded by the size, weight and volume of a massive vehicle, putting others on the road at risk of a catastrophic truck accident.

Commercial Trucks and Drowsy Driving

There are a number of factors that can contribute to truck driver fatigue and the threat that it poses on Pennsylvania roadways. In addition to the sheer size of commercial trucks, they are often harder to stop and require a longer braking distance, meaning that it can be more difficult to avoid a truck crash in progress. Federal law recognizes the serious danger posed by truck driver fatigue. There are hours of service regulations that aim to limit the number of hours a truck driver can spend behind the wheel. Among these regulations are the following:
  • Truck drivers may only drive for 11 consecutive hours out of a 14-hour workday.
  • Drivers must take a break of 10 consecutive hours before getting behind the wheel again.
  • Truck drivers are barred from driving over 60 hours a week or 70 hours in an eight-day period.
However, some truck drivers violate these rules. Some choose to violate them on their own while others may be pressured by trucking companies and clients to meet a near-impossible delivery schedule. While federal rules require drivers to log their hours in a logbook, some drivers and companies may falsify these reports. A PA accident attorney may be able to spot signs of falsified logbooks in case of a serious truck crash.

Are Trucking Companies Responsible?

In the past, trucking companies have tried to evade their responsibility for negligent and drowsy driving by saying that the drivers are independent contractors who only lease the trucking equipment. They claim that they are not responsible for any negligence committed by the driver. However, federal laws have been updated to more accurately reflect the involvement of trucking companies in Pennsylvania truck crashes related to fatigue or other negligence. It may be possible to sue the company if it displayed its name on the truck that caused the crash in any way in a personal injury or wrongful death case.

How Can Accident Victims Prove Fatigue?

Driving while drowsy violates a driver's responsibility to pay attention and behave responsibly while behind the wheel. Because fatigued truck drivers violated the duty of care they owed to others on the road, they can be held liable for the damages caused by their negligence. It can be important to back up a claim of truck driver fatigue with evidence, however. An Allentown accident attorney can provide advice and guidance to help accident victims gather the evidence they need to prove responsibility. Accident victims may be unsure how they can obtain the evidence they need from the trucking company or other parties involved. Some types of proof that can be important when negotiating with an insurance company or going to court include:
  • Driver logbooks
  • Navigation and GPS records
  • Onboard computer data
  • Data from event recorders or inclinometers
  • Records of deliveries and loads
  • Cellphone or dispatch records
  • Videos taken by nearby pedestrians or roadway cameras

Contact a Pennsylvania Truck Accident Lawyer

Truck accidents can cause catastrophic injuries, including organ damage, broken bones, amputations or traumatic brain injury. The occupants of other, smaller vehicles are far more likely to be seriously hurt as a result of a trucking crash. Victims of truck accidents may face extensive costs, including lost wages, medical bills and the cost of future care for the accident injuries. If you've been injured in a trucking crash caused by a drowsy driver in Pennsylvania, contact an Allentown accident attorney for help. The lawyers at Metzger & Kleiner have years of experience in fighting for the rights of truck accident victims. Contact our Lehigh Valley office at (610) 435-7400 to set up an appointment today for an initial consultation.

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