South Carolina Truck Accident Lawyers Fight Back Against Fatigued Truck Drivers
Tired truckers can cause serious accidents
Truckers who drive too many hours without sleep have become a national concern. According to the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) the vast majority of truckers on our highways behave responsibly and drive well within reasonable limits, but rules are needed to protect against those drivers and trucking companies who are tempted to push the limits and put our families and loved ones at risk. Driver fatigue is a leading factor in truck accidents.
If you are injured, or a loved one injured or killed because of a truck driver’s negligent driving while fatigued, you should seek the guidance of an experienced South Carolina truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. The attorneys at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, are accident litigators who investigate thoroughly in order to prove the cause of a truck accidents. We work closely with expert investigators and accident reconstruction specialists to determine the exact cause of an accident. We consult with economic impact analysts to determine the full extent of a victim’s financial damages. Only in that way can we try a case that can identify and hold the responsible parties legally and financially accountable.
Trucker breaks are required by law
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) “nearly 4,000 people die in large truck crashes each year and driver fatigue is a leading factor.” In December, 2011 the FMCSA issued a new rule to stop fatigued truck driving by making changes to existing “hours of service” rules. The new rule updated two earlier requirements:
- First, drivers must now take a 30-minute rest break within the first 8 hours of their shifts so that they can stay alert on the road, and
- Second, the 34-hour rest period, known as the “restart,” must now be used once every seven days, and must include at least two periods of rest between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
The updated rule requires that a driver have the opportunity to take a real rest and catch up on sleep before working another long week. The net effect of these changes has been to reduce the average maximum week a driver can work, from 82 hours to 70 hours.
Symptoms of driver fatigue
It is very difficult for drivers to accurately assess their own level of fatigue. Although a driver’s ability to self-assess becomes increasingly impaired as they grow more fatigued, their self-confidence in this ability remains. Some of the warning signs that fatigue may already be impairing the driver’s performance include:
- Trouble focusing, or narrowing of attention
- Head nodding, or inability to keep the eyes open
- Not remembering the last few minutes
- Poor judgment, slower reaction time
- “Zoning out” or mind wandering
- Daydreaming and wandering thoughts
- Constant yawning or eye rubbing
- Drifting out of the traffic lane
When these kinds of problems result in an accident the truck driver can be said to have driven negligently. That is when you need to consult with an experienced South Carolina truck accident lawyer to protect your interests and your family’s.
Why do drivers drive when they are fatigued?
An article in Trucker’s Report offers this explanation: shippers and receivers often give a specific time to load or unload, and then fail to keep the appointment. A driver’s “sitting time,” sometimes as much as 6 to 8 hours or more, is not compensated. The driver sits and waits without sleep until the cargo is loaded.
As most drivers are paid by the mile rather than salaried, they only earn money when their wheels are turning; hence the need to drive as many miles as they can, fatigued or not. Even without sitting times, the lure of earning more money by driving more miles is hard to resist, fatigue notwithstanding.
Put your trust in the South Carolina law firm that puts people first
McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC’s team of hard-working, no-nonsense South Carolina truck accident lawyers has extensive experience advocating for families and individuals who have been injured or have suffered the loss of a loved one because of negligence on the highway by a trucking company or its driver. We are dedicated, driven and committed to delivering results. Let us help you obtain the justice and compensation you deserve.
Contact McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, today. Please call 803-327-7800 and schedule a free case evaluation by an experienced South Carolina truck accident attorney, or fill out our contact form from any device. We proudly serve people throughout the state from offices in Columbia, Anderson, Rock Hill, Sumter, and Georgetown.