Much of the American economy depends on the transportation of goods across the country, and truckers play a large role in making this happen. These individuals have important and valuable jobs, but the urgency associated with timely and expedited delivery may lead to unsafe practices.
Despite the passage of laws and implementation of safety regulations, truckers may feel pressure to drive too many hours. No matter how many years of experience a person has behind the wheel of a big rig, chronic fatigue can significantly increase the chance of an accident and injury to innocent Pennsylvania motorists.
Why is it so dangerous?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation, regulates the number of hours that a truck driver can be behind the wheel. Experts conjecture that approximately 4,000 people die in truck-related accidents every year, and limiting the number of hours may reduce the chance that a driver unnecessarily causes a serious or fatal accident.
Fatigued driving is dangerous for many reasons, and over time, chronic tiredness can diminish a trucker's ability to make smart and safe decisions while driving. Fatigue is a risk because it can do the following:
- Reduce reaction time
- Lead to speeding and reckless driving
- Cause swerving and drifting
- Make a trucker more prone to aggressive driving
A tired driver is especially dangerous when behind the wheel of a large and heavy vehicle that can cause significant damage even in low-speed collisions.
The regulations intended to keep you safe
A few years ago, the FMCSA established new regulations intended to reduce the risk of fatigued driving and keep motorists safe. The new rules require that truckers do the following in order to stay alert:
- Take a 30 minute break within the first eight hours of driving
- Restart the work week only once in seven days, requiring a significant period of rest between cycles
These regulations effectively reduce the number of hours that a trucker can drive in one week to 70 hours, down from 82. The intent is to prevent companies from requiring drivers from working the maximum amount of hours every week, thereby decreasing chronic fatigue and reducing preventable accidents.
If you were hurt in an accident caused by a truck driver, it is possible that fatigue played a role. A thorough investigation will not only determine what happened, it will help clearly identify liable parties and determine the most appropriate legal option available to you.