The life of a tractor-trailer driver can be extremely demanding. Long hours, driving hundreds of miles a day, a solitary work environment and days away from one’s family are some of the realities of driving a rig for a living. Because a trucker is paid based on the number of miles driven rather than the number of hours worked, there are times that a truck driver is working (for example, when the truck is being loaded) but not getting paid for that work. This can lead to drivers trying to get in extra miles to earn more money. However, all these hours can lead to driver fatigue. When a truck driver gets tired, the likelihood of the driver being involved in a truck accident increases.
Accidents caused by tired drivers
Driver fatigue can affect any motorist. However, many aspects of the job of tractor-trailer driving are factors that are linked to tiredness. For instance, fatigue is more likely to affect individuals who drive at night. Since truck drivers have deadlines to meet, many spend nighttime hours driving in order to reach their destination in a timely manner. In addition, driving alone is considered to be more of a risk than driving with passengers in the vehicle. While some truck drivers do bring a spouse or friend along for their journeys, most spend their hours on the road alone.
Driving long distances without proper rest breaks is another circumstance that can affect a driver’s ability to remain alert and engaged while on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued new hours-of-service regulations that took effect on July 1, 2013, to reduce driver fatigue and improve public safety for all motorists. These rules change the maximum average work week from 82 to 70 hours; drivers who reach this limit may resume driving only after 34 consecutive hours of rest.
A list of specific at-risk groups who are more likely to experience fatigue while driving includes commercial drivers, especially long-haul drivers, according to DrowsyDriving.org. Approximately 15 percent of fatal crashes involving heavy trucks can be attributed to the tiredness of the driver.
A recent accident involving a fatigued driver claimed the life of a truck driver from Henryetta. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol report states that the driver was headed eastbound on Oklahoma 51 when the Peterbilt rig ran off the highway and then rolled over one and a half times. The driver was not wearing a seatbelt, and he was ejected from the cab, landing 40 feet away from where the truck came to a stop. The 48-year-old man was taken to Bass Hospital in Enid, but pronounced dead on arrival due to the numerous internal and external injuries he sustained as a result of the crash.
This tragic accident illustrates how important it is to be well-rested before getting behind the wheel. Although this was a single-vehicle accident, fatigued drivers can also be involved in accidents which affect passenger vehicles. When this is the case, a motorist who drove while tired and caused an accident can be found liable for negligence and thus responsible for any damages that result.
If you have been injured by the negligence of a commercial truck driver, you have rights under the law. To learn more about how the law will apply to the circumstances of your accident, contact an experienced attorney.