Truckers continue to drive drowsy despite federal regulations

The FMCSA has increased trucker rest periods, yet truck drivers continue to violate federal regulations.

Massive tractor trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. Due to their heavy weight and large size, these giant vehicles must be operated by a well-trained, licensed commercial truck driver. A steady increase in the number of large truck accident fatalities across the country shows that big rigs can become deadly when operated by drowsy truck drivers. In Ohio alone, 146 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents involving large trucks, some of which involved fatigued truckers.

When inexperienced and poorly trained truckers are put behind the wheel of a big rig, they threaten the lives of everyone else on the road. In addition, a greater number of seasoned, licensed truck drivers are falling asleep at the wheel. Truck driver fatigue has become a serious issue in Ohio and across the nation, as many people are wondering what can be done to ensure the safety of people who share the road with tractor trailers.

Hours of Service regulations: Revised

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revised the Hours of Service regulations, which determine how long truckers can remain behind the wheel at any given time. Truckers are now required to take a 30-minute break within the first eight hours of their shift. The new regulations also limit truckers to 11 hours of driving time each day, and 72 hours of driving time each week. Many truckers and trucking companies are upset by the changes. Not only are truckers unable to meet tight deadlines, but they are away from their families for a longer period of time and are paid less.

Some trucking companies encourage drivers to stay behind the wheel for longer periods of time, despite federal regulations. Companies may also employ unlicensed truckers or truck drivers with previous violations in order to move more freight and make deadlines. These practices increase the risk of truck driver fatigue, and the likelihood that a catastrophic truck accident will occur.

Asleep at the wheel

This issue came into the public eye when actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was involved in a tractor trailer accident last summer. The truck driver had been awake for 24 hours before he rear-ended Morgan's limousine, seriously injuring Morgan and killing his comedian comrade Jimmy Mack. According to Bloomberg Business, the trucker had fallen asleep at the wheel at the New Jersey Turnpike, where the tragic collision occurred. Morgan and the other surviving passengers of the limousine filed a lawsuit against the trucking company for negligence in hiring, training and scheduling the trucker.

Legal help may be necessary

Tractor trailers can cause serious injuries, including broken bones, spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries, loss of limbs and even paralysis. The emotional and physical aftereffects of a large truck accident can be ongoing. A personal injury attorney in Ohio may be able to help people who have been injured or lost a loved one in a tractor trailer accident.

Keywords: truck driver, fatigue, accident