Getting behind the wheel of a car is generally safe, but occasionally it can become dangerous quickly. While you may make every effort to drive carefully, other vehicles on the road can put you at risk. When another driver makes a mistake, it can result in a serious accident. If that other driver is operating a commercial vehicle, like a semitruck or an eighteen wheeler, the results could be catastrophic. Injuries could be severe, even fatal, for the people in your vehicle. The vehicle itself is liable to end up a complete loss.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to commercial truck accidents. Trucks have big blind spots, make wide turns and can have trouble stopping quickly if something unexpected happens. Sometimes, an attempt to quickly stop could lead a commercial truck to jackknife, skiddng sideways and blocking all lanes of traffic. Other times, a truck driver could simply lose control of the vehicle.
Required breaks help reduce the risk of exhaustion
Driving for long hours can leave a person feeling tired. Road hypnosis, which is an experience where even well-rested people get lulled to sleep by repetitive landscapes and staring at the road, can also result in a crash. Truck drivers may feel pressured to drive even when tired, especially if their cargo has to reach a destination quickly. Sometimes employers may contribute to these poor decisions by offering financial incentives for faster deliveries.
Under federal laws, called hours of service rules, truck drivers are limited in terms of how long they can drive without a break, how long they can drive between sleeping sessions and how many hours they can drive in a certain number of days. Truckers may only drive 60 hours in a seven-day period or 70 hours in an eight-day period. They must also limit their on-duty time to at most 15 hours, followed by an eight hour period of rest for sleeping. The highest legal number of consecutive hours a trucker can drive is 10.
Log books could get falsified to protect truckers from risks
In order to assert compliance with federal law and still get those on-time bonuses, some truckers may decide to falsify their log books and other critical records. If a trucker has a history of driving for longer times than is permitted, it could end up causing an accident. When that happens, the victims have a right to hold the driver, and possibly the employer involved, accountable for their losses.
Truck drivers who break or bend these laws put everyone at risk. If you or someone you love has sustained injuries due to a collision caused by an exhausted commercial driver, you should consider all of your options for compensation carefully.