In 2016, truck driving was ranked number 8 in Forbes magazine’s deadliest jobs in America. Truck driving is deadly because of the grueling shifts drivers must work. In 2013, the U.S. Department of transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandated that the average workweek for a truck driver must decrease from 82 hours of driving in a week to 70 hours. Drivers must rest for 34 consecutive hours before they are allowed to start up another work week of 70 hours. In addition, to having to take a 34-hour break in between work weeks, drivers are also required to take a 30-minute break during the first 8 hours of a shift. These guidelines for drivers, and the companies they work for, are being strictly enforced by the FMCSA. Companies that allow their drivers to exceed the driving limits of 70 hours a week by more than 3 hours risk being fined $11,000 per offense. The drivers also could face being fined up to $2,750 for each offense.
Even though these FMCSA rules were put in place to ensure that drivers were getting enough rest and driving safely, we still see many serious crashes that involve trucks. For instance, the 2014 crash involving comedian Tracey Morgan’s limo and a Walmart truck shows what can happen when a driver does not get enough sleep. In 2014, Walmart truck driver Kevin Roper fell asleep at the wheel after being awake for close to 25 hours. Not only did Mr. Roper fall asleep at the wheel, but he was going 20 mph over the speed limit in a construction zone when he rear-ended Mr. Morgan’s limo. As a result of this crash, Mr. Morgan was severely injured and comedian James McNair was killed.
Driver fatigue and traveling too fast for road conditions are two conditions that are the leading causes of truck-related crashes, according to FMCSA. Other drivers are not the only individuals in danger during truck-related crashes. A U.S. News article reported that 65% of truck drivers related deaths are due to crashes. It was also stated that the majority of these fatalities were drivers who were not wearing their seatbelts, which is not an uncommon practice among truck drivers. 14% of truck drivers admitted to not using their seat belts on every trip and even admitted that they would also speed and practice other unsafe driving habits. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Center for Motor Vehicle Safety encourages all trucking companies to provide driver safety programs to address the risk of driving a truck. These programs would also encourage drivers to wear seatbelts, not use their phones, and to get an ample amount of sleep.
If you, or someone you know, have been injured in a truck crash, then please contact one of our truck accident attorneys at Mitcheson & Lee.