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Driver Fatigue and Trucking Accidents on MA Roads

Vehicle crashes involving large trucks are responsible for over 5,000 fatalities annually in the United States. The person or people killed are almost always occupants of passenger vehicles – rarely the truck driver. Additionally, almost 150,000 people are injured every year in accidents involving large trucks. There are many causes of trucking accidents, including distracted driving, drug or alcohol use, and faulty equipment. However, one of the main contributing factors to large truck accidents is driver fatigue.

Time is Money

Unfortunately, we live in a society that sometimes values money and material goods above common sense and safety. When a product is in demand, manufacturers and retailers want to supply that demand. To do so, large trucks are required to transport material goods such as televisions, iPhones, furniture, and clothing from the manufacturer or distributor to the store. The quicker the goods reach their final destination, the more money can be made. For this reason, truck drivers are often paid by the mile driven, a system which encourages speeding and driving for excessive hours. Driving for 14 hours a day is mentally and physically exhausting for most people. When you combine a speeding, 18-wheeler with a tired driver, it creates an extremely dangerous scenario.

Hours-of-Service Rules

In response to the increase in fatigue-related accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created new hours-of-service rules for truck drivers and trucking companies. Under the old rules, truck drivers could effectively drive for 16 hours in one shift. However, with the new regulations, a truck driver is not permitted to drive more than 11 hours at a time. Prior to that 11 hour shift, he or she must have 10 consecutive hours off duty.

The new hours-of-service rule was implemented in 2011 to reduce driver fatigue and prevent unnecessary accidents. Unfortunately, critics of the new rule say that it unintentionally puts more trucks on the road at peak travel times, and accidents have actually begun to increase. Even with more rest, truck drivers can still become severely fatigued after 11 hours of driving, or less. This is especially true if the driver doesn’t get adequate rest during his or her time off. Individual circumstances such as sleep disorders (sleep apnea or insomnia), medications, and other work can all contribute to truck driver fatigue. The bottom line is – due to a truck’s large size, any accident is likely to cause serious damage or injury, and possibly death.

Facts About Driver Fatigue

Driver fatigue contributes to nearly 40 percent of all large truck crashes

Driver fatigue is a factor in 75 percent of all run-off-the-road crashes

Long work shifts increase the risk of performance errors and impair a truck driver’s ability to get adequate restorative sleep even if he or she has sufficient time for off-duty rest

The risk of crash nearly doubles from the eighth driving hour to the tenth driving hour.

If you’ve been injured in a vehicle collision with a large truck, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The MA Law Firm of Altman & Altman has been fighting for the rights of accident and injury victims for almost 50 years. Our skilled, dedicated attorneys will help you determine the best way to move forward. Large truck accidents often result in serious, long-term injuries, extensive medical bills, and time off work. You may be entitled to compensation for these damages, and other associated costs. Contact the Greater Boston Law Firm of Altman & Altman LLP for a free consultation.

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