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The Dangers of Interstate Truck Driver Fatigue

January 28, 2019

With a standard car on the road today weighing an average of 4,000 pounds and a tractor-trailer truck carrying up to 80,000 pounds, collisions involving cars and tractor-trailers are some of the most devastating motor vehicle accidents. Many of these catastrophic, life-changing accidents are caused by negligent truck drivers who are tired from lack of rest.

By law, truck drivers are mandated to follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules and regulations. According to the FMCSA, a truck driver may drive a total of 11 hours a day during a 14-hour work period.  This 14-hour work period begins when a driver starts any type of work, such as loading or unloading a trailer.  Once a driver has reached the end of the 14-hour period, he or she cannot drive again until he or she has been off duty for another 10 consecutive hours.  The FMCSA also requires all drivers to keep accurate daily logs their time.  These daily logs are in written form, unless a driver’s time is being recorded electronically.

However, because of strict deadlines, payment structures and bonus allotments, drivers and the companies they work for often forgo adequate rest and required driver time off. By choosing profits over safety, they create a dangerous environment for Connecticut drivers.  Tired drivers are more likely to be distracted, are slower to react and are more prone to dangerous decisions than well-rested drivers.  Some studies, including one done by the American Automobile Association, found the risks of fatigued driving comparable to drunk driving.

Truck accident lawyers will investigate the unique cause of each car-truck accident, including driver fatigue. Most trucks manufactured in the United States since the 1990s have an Electronic Control Module (ECM) integrated with their engine components, similar to that used in commercial airliners.  These ECMs are designed to capture a variety of on-going data regarding the operation of the truck.  Specifically, ECMs record operational data over a period of time (usually 30 days), including overall average speed, highest speed and time driven.

Truck drivers can fudge their log books; however, experienced truck accident lawyers work with top experts in the trucking field, including accident reconstructionist and FMCSA experts, to analyze ECM data against a driver’s log books to determine if driver fatigue played a part in each accident.

In Connecticut, injured persons have up to two years to file a lawsuit and also have two years to file a suit for property damage, such as compensation for vehicle repairs. Failure to bring a lawsuit within this time frame will prevent any recovery regardless of the merits of the case.

Joaquin L. Madry
Silver Golub & Teitell LLP

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