Chicago Truck Driver Fatigue Accident Lawyer
Are you involved in an accident involving truck driver fatigue, leaving you with severe injuries?
Did the accident claim the life of a loved one? Do you want to hold the drowsy truck driver financially accountable for their negligence?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys represent injured truck accident victims and surviving close relatives who lost a loved one in a preventable accident. Call our truck accident law office in Chicago, Illinois at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation.
The 2013 study revealed that truck driver fatigue was a leading cause of truck accidents on the road. Research indicates that over eighty-seven percent of all truck accidents are attributable to a driver's error.
In comparison, only thirteen percent of accidents result from a vehicle malfunction or environmental failure.
Out of all crashes involving a truck driver's mistake, a staggering thirteen percent of accidents are due to driver's fatigue. As a result, falling asleep at the wheel has become a significant problem in an industry where truck drivers feel the pinch of working very long hours.
Unfortunately, truck drivers are under pressure to drive extra hours due to low wages and a system that puts a premium on productivity over safety. During high volume shipment periods, truck companies may also pressure truck drivers to complete deliveries quickly.
The statistics reveal that driver fatigue is an issue for which society needs to find some resolution.
One of every four commercial truck drivers claims that they have fallen asleep while driving at least once in the prior month. Such high statistics are unacceptable for maintaining safe driving conditions on the road.
In addition, this behavior puts other drivers and passengers at serious risk for involvement in jackknife crashes and different types of dangerous truck accidents.
- Drowsy driving
- Fatigued driving (too little sleep)
- Sleep disorders and sleep deprivation
- Exhaustion from physical or mental exertion
- Driver drowsiness
- Drunk driving (blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher)
- Unclear road construction signs
- Improper loading
- Failing to stop on time when approaching traffic jams
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) analysis shows many truck accidents due to fatigue result from operating the vehicle past the regulated number of hours per day or week. The state's regulator stipulates that a truck driver resumes an eleven-hour shift after a ten-hour break. However, some drivers violate this rule and work long hours on the road.
Fatigue Management for Truckers
Hauling freight is a heavy responsibility that requires highly skilled truckers. Research shows they have better miles-per-gallon performance when compared with their counterparts by 35%. But all drivers deal with driver fatigue, which impacts the company's bottom line and its customers' experience.
Many of America's truckers are on the road every day, moving more than 70% of our nation's freight by weight. As a result, they're an essential part of keeping everyone safe and sound when driving!
Truckers play an integral role in transporting cargo across the country - which is why safety should always be a top priority during any trip or time spent behind the wheel. Understanding familiar sources of sleep deprivation and ways to manage them will facilitate safe driving on the road.
Drowsy driving is a significant cause of car accidents and truck accidents. Still, it's also one of the most preventable ones. The following common signs can indicate you're getting tired while operating your truck:
- A sleepy driver behind the wheel might not make any noises, and the vehicle won't swerve.
- If you suspect a trucker of being asleep at the wheel, do not try to overtake them or flash your lights for them to wake up, as this could lead you into an accident.
- Pullover and wait until they have finished their nap before continuing on your way.
- Be cautious when operating your truck. The following are hints to keep you safe, as well as what to do if you find yourself driving behind a vehicle that is drifting into your lane when they fall asleep while at the wheel:
- If all else fails and the trucker still hasn't woken up or stopped their drowsy driving behavior, pull over and call 911.
- It's common for drivers to get drowsy after taking pain medication because the medication may make you feel tired or make it harder to stay alert while behind the wheel. Some medications that cause drowsiness are:
- Cough suppressants
- Sleep aids
- Allergy medications.
- If you suspect someone is operating their truck while high or intoxicated, stop driving and call 911.
- If the driver is exhibiting drowsy driving behaviors, pull up behind them and turn on your hazard lights to make sure they're fully awake. If it's dark outside, flash your headlights a few times to gain their attention.
- You can also pull up beside or in front of their vehicle and roll down your window or call 911.
- If you see a driver off the road, break down, or in another dangerous situation, call 911.
- Suppose you are a trucker with a conviction of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or DWI Causing Injury/Death. In that case, your CDL privileges will be subject to a one-year suspension for a first offense.
- If you are a trucker with three DWI convictions within the last ten years, your CDL privileges will face five years of revocation.
- If you are a trucker and have any other criminal convictions on your driving record that aren't related to DWI, or if you've had multiple moving violations in a short period. In that case, your CDL privileges will be subject to suspension.
- You'll be required to get behind-the-wheel training before your driver's license will be restored or reissued after a suspension for a moving violation.
Holding the Trucker's Truck Company Financially Accountable
Nearly all trucking accidents result from a trucker's negligence from not getting enough sleep, compromising their driving habits. However, additional third-party defendants may be involved in a trucking accident. A personal injury attorney working for a client might prove that other parties are liable for the crash, for instance:
- The trucking company
- Truck manufacturer
- Tire supplier
- Component manufacturer
- Road maintenance crews
Potential third-party claims might include additional damages caused by:
- Inadequate maintenance
- Defective equipment
- Hazardous road conditions in construction zones
- Tight schedules involving working longer hours, leading to inadequate sleep and disregarding traffic patterns or construction delays
- Overloaded commercial trucks carrying heavy cargo
- Defective braking and steering systems that cause the truck to travel into oncoming traffic
Many trucking companies will attempt to evade responsibility for their trucker's fatigued driving, leading to a catastrophic accident by blaming the injured victim. In addition, in many incidents, the defendants' insurance companies will deny the claim, delay payment, or make a bad faith offer during the settlement negotiation meeting.
Hiring a Truck Driver Fatigue Accident Injury Attorney
Were you involved in a truck accident that driver's fatigue may have caused? If so, get in touch with a commercial trucking accident lawyer as soon as possible. The truck accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can help investigate your case and whether a trucking company has had issues with fatigued commercial drivers in the past.
There are new federal transportation regulations to combat driver fatigue. A personal injury attorney can use these regulatory rules to your advantage when handling your motor vehicle case. Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free) for a free consultation to discuss your compensation claim.
The newly tightened regulations address concerns that many truck crashes from drowsy drivers are preventable with better time management and a regular sleep pattern. However, even with these new regulations, driving motor vehicles safely remains a severe problem on the nation's highways.
Federal Regulations to Combat Truck Driver Fatigue
On July 1, 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) put forth new regulations to improve safety on the road. The regulatory controls cut down on driver fatigue, and trucking companies have eighteen months to implement these recent changes.
Truck drivers may now only work a maximum of seventy hours a week, decreasing the previous limit of eighty-two hours per week.
Also, truck drivers must take thirty-four-hour rest breaks after driving for seventy hours over seven days. The rest break also requires that truck drivers rest during the periods in which the body lacks sleep. These hours are from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. for most truckers.
Lastly, the new federal transportation regulations mandate that truck drivers take a thirty-minute break within an eight-hour shift. These break periods help drivers regain their strength, focus, and energy for safe driving on the road.
Penalties for Failure to Abide by Federal Regulations Related to Mandatory Rest
If a company fails to abide by these new regulations, there can be severe penalties. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has stated that it will impose maximum penalties on the drivers and businesses that fail to abide by these new rules.
Drivers who violate the regulations for more than three hours could face harsh fines of $2,750 for each offense. Also, trucking companies can potentially face severe penalties of $11,000 for each violation.
Those interested in learning more about the penalties can read through the "Hours of Service Logbook Examples" handbook that is available through the website of the FMCSA.
Truckers face harsh penalties from an accident caused by driver fatigue. In addition, the driver and trucking company can be held financially accountable.
Those injured in severe commercial vehicle accidents involving driver fatigue might have suffered from injuries that have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
These individuals might find that they can only afford their medical expenses by filing a lawsuit against the truck driver and trucking company responsible for causing the accident. Typically, compensation comes from the trucking company and trucker's insurance companies.
Truck Drivers' Fatigue Accident FAQs
Our injury law firm understands that many families have unanswered questions about dealing directly with the insurance company when seeking compensation for damages for accidents involving large trucks and other commercial vehicles. A truck accident attorney answered some of those questions below.
Call our law office at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form for additional information and legal advice. Let us discuss the many factors involved in recovering compensation for compensatory and punitive damages.
What Causes Fatigue When Driving?
Fatigue, drowsy driving, or sleepiness are all signs that the driver likely has not gotten adequate sleep and has traveled beyond their legal driving limit. However, the truck driver might also be fatigued due to medication, alcohol consumption, sleep apnea, shift work, or untreated sleep disorder.
Truckers and passenger vehicle drivers drive for long hours resulting in fatigue while driving during their typical sleep time. However, for most drivers, the common symptoms associated with fatigue are challenging to identify, especially during long work hours.
What Are the Signs of Driver Fatigue?
The common signs and symptoms associated with fatigue include heavy or sore eyes, impatience, yawning, slow reaction time, cramps, impaired driving, neck stiffness, and driving at fluctuating speeds.
A tired truck driver can easily make an error of judgment. As a result, truck accidents arising from drowsy driving make it challenging to avoid.
What Percentage of Nighttime Commercial Truck Accidents Are Fatigue-Related?
Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveal that fatigued drivers represent about thirteen percent of all accidents with severe injuries. However, fatigue is not always the contributing factor in causing the accident.
Studies by the National Transportation Safety Board have seen a correlation between sleepiness and truck crash injuries. As a result, large trucks crash studies recommended changes to the hours of sleep and working hours.
Is Turning the Radio Up a Sign of Fatigue?
Many drivers and long-haul truckers heading out on the road are not aware of their level of tiredness or sleepiness until they are well underway. In time, they may notice it is difficult to keep both eyes open and turn up the radio or roll on the window as a distraction.
However, drowsiness is a common sign of fatigue that should not go unnoticed. Tiredness can happen at any time of the day or night, no matter how many hours the truck driver has been driving.
Truck driver fatigue contributes to nearly 4 out of every ten big rig crashes. In addition, a National Transportation Safety Board report revealed that fatigue was the prominent contributing factor in more than half of the 107 heavy truck crashes studied.
Is Blurred Vision a Sign of Fatigue?
Blurry vision is often a sign of fatigue, especially if the driver has a refractive error, including astigmatism or long- short-sightedness. However, any eye condition might not be as noticeable during the middle of the day when there is adequate sunshine.
However, vision can instantly blur when the eyes are tired during nighttime, twilight, and dawn. Therefore, tired truck drivers with blurry vision should safely pull off the road and rest until their full vision is ok.
What Happens If a CDL Driver Gets in an Accident?
After the crash, the trucking company insurance carrier and local law enforcement will determine who was at fault. Suppose the truck driver is liable entirely or partially responsible. In that case, the police will likely issue a ticket or citation.
Fatigued truck drivers involved in accidents must undergo alcohol and drug testing to ascertain if they were above the legal limit. If no drugs or alcohol is present in the trucker's blood system, they would likely keep their jobs.
By federal law, the investigators must review the trucker's hours of service (HOS) behind the wheel, time asleep, break times, and other information to identify any regulation violations. In addition, the hours-of-service regulations mandate that commercial truck drivers must document in the driver's log how long they have been operating their vehicle.
Often, tired truckers fall asleep behind the wheel, trying to meet unreasonable deadlines in delivering cargo on a tight schedule. However, driving too many hours beyond the federal limits violates federal rules, leading to extensive monetary penalties.
Contact a Truck Collision Lawyer for Help Today With Your Accident Case
If you have been involved in a truck accident involving a fatigued driver, we can help with your case. Our truck accident lawyers are ready to assist you in whatever way they can to ensure you are compensated for your hospitalization costs, medical bills, lost wages, future lost earnings, pain, and suffering.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents accident victims exclusively. Our experience litigating challenging Illinois trucking collision cases has resolved hundreds of trucking accident cases for maximum value throughout the State of Illinois and throughout the Midwest.
Contact us at 888-424-5757 to discuss you or your loved one's significant life-changing decision to get the monetary recovery you deserve. Any sensitive or confidential information you share with your experienced truck accident lawyer remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
We accept all injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. This promise ensures that our clients do not pay until the legal matter is resolved through a negotiated settlement or jury verdict. In addition, our Chicago auto accident attorneys currently follow social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).