Trucking accidents are a top concern for safety officials. What’s even more of a concern is tired truck drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are roughly 100,000 police-reported accidents every year that are the direct result of a drowsy driver. These accidents result in nearly 2,000 fatalities, more than 70,000 injures and nearly $13 billion in monetary losses.
Those concerns are exacerbated when the driver is at the wheel of an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer.
Definitions of drowsy driving generally involve varying degrees of fatigue, sleepiness, and exhaustion. For the purpose of the discussion at hand, drowsy driving is simply driving in a physical state in which the driver’s alertness is appreciably lower than it would be if the driver were “well rested” and “fully awake.”
Our Chicago trucking accident lawyers understand that truckers face some tough schedules on the job. These drivers are oftentimes traveling our roadways on little to no sleep. Products are in demand and truckers are responsible for delivering the goods. Unfortunately, this demand often leads to fatigued and dangerous drivers. To help to reduce these accidents and to keep truck drivers awake and on their toes, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently issued a new rule to cut down on the number of hours that truck drivers are allowed to spend behind the wheel.
“Trucking is a difficult job, and a big rig can be deadly when a driver is tired and overworked,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
The new hours of service (HOS) rule was finalized after the Administration held a number of public listening sessions across the nation. Within these sessions, trucking companies, employers, employees, safe driving advocates and members of the public were provided with an opportunity to bring up questions, comments and concerns regarding the issue and the dangers presented by tired truckers.
The Newly-Issued HOS Rule:
-Drivers’ approved work weeks have been reduced by 12 hours, from 82 hours to 70 hours behind the wheel in a seven-day period.
-Drivers are not allowed to drive for more than 8 consecutive hours without taking a 30-minute break.
-Drivers are allowed to take a 30-minute break whenever they feel it’s needed and whenever they feel drowsy.
-Drivers may drive only 11 hours a day. Researchers will be continuing research into the risks associated with an 11-hour work day.
-Drivers must rest for at least 2 nights when their 24-hour body clock demands sleep the most (from 1 to 5 a.m.).
-Drivers may use the restart provision once in a week.
-Fines for companies who violate the new rules will be strict. Companies can face maximum fines and punishments. Trucking companies can face fines of more than $10,000 for each offense. Drivers can face nearly fines of $3,000 for each offense.
Who is most at risk for drowsy driving?:
-People who drive after not getting enough sleep.
-Younger drivers. Drivers under the age of 30 are 4 times more likely to get into a drowsy driving accident.
-People who work long hours and shift workers.
-People who have undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders. This accounts for roughly 40 million people.
If you or someone in your family has been injured in a car or truck accident in Chicago or in any of the surrounding areas, call the accident lawyers at Abels & Annes for a free consultation. Call (866) 99-ABELS.
More Blog Entries:
49-year-old woman killed in deadly Chicago-area truck accident, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, September 6, 2011
Gov. Quinn Increases Speed Limit – Motorists Worry about Speed-Related Trucking Accidents in Illinois, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, August 10, 2011