According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of adult drivers have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than one-third have actually fallen asleep at the wheel. Now imagine the damage these tired drivers could cause behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound tractor-trailer after a long work day. Fatigue caused by lack of sleep is a major cause of truck accidents.
After a Large Truck Accident Causation Study found that 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers were considered fatigued at the time of their accident, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enacted regulations to ensure the safety of drivers and the public. Because long driving shifts and lack of adequate sleep were causing fatigue in commercial motor vehicle drivers, the FMCSA created hours-of-service rules that limit the number of daily and weekly hours spent driving and regulate the minimum amount of time drivers must spend resting between driving shifts. Drivers are kept on a 21- to 24-hour schedule, maintaining a natural sleep and wake cycle, are required to take a daily minimum period of rest, and are allowed longer weekend rest periods to combat cumulative fatigue effects that accrue on a weekly basis.
A commercial motor vehicle driver is subject to the following hours-of-service regulations (https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service/summary-hours-service-regulations):
- 11-Hour Driving Limit: May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- 14-Hour Limit: May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
- Rest Breaks: May drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes.
- 60/70-Hour Limit: May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman has a long history of successfully winning cases for people injured in truck accidents. As you can see, the above rules are complex and require interpretation by an expert in commercial truck accident law. If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial motor vehicle, it is essential that you obtain an experienced personal injury attorney to determine if driver fatigue may have been a factor. Please contact Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman today for a free consultation. We will only receive a fee in the event of a successful resolution of your case and an attorney is ready to take your call now at 816-474-0004.