Truck driver fatigue a factor in highway accidents
Media coverage of the serious injuries suffered by comedian Tracy Morgan and the death of passenger in his rented limo bus has focused attention on a problem that exists on highways in Tennessee and throughout the U.S. Commercial drivers who fail to obey federal trucking regulations limiting the number of hours they can be behind the wheel each day might pose a higher risk of causing truck accidents than drivers who get adequate rest.
According to police reports and eyewitness accounts of the accident, the driver of a commercial vehicle apparently failed to notice that traffic had slowed ahead of him until it was too late for him to stop. The truck attempted to avoid a collision with other vehicles by swerving, but it slammed into the limo bus and caused it to flip over. The truck’s owner said the vehicle was equipped with a safety device designed to automatically slow the vehicle and alert the driver of traffic stopped ahead of it.
Prosecutors filed criminal assault and death by auto charges against the truck driver. Authorities allege that truck driver fatigue was the cause of the failure of the truck operator failing to respond in time to the traffic ahead of him. Court documents allege that the driver of the truck had not slept for at least 24 hours. Federal trucking regulations state that a truck driver’s work schedule must include 10 hours of off-work time to sleepeach day.
Drivers record work and rest periods in a trucking log. These logs are intended to provide federal regulators with proof that drivers are obeying federal regulations. A truck company might be held liable for injuries or deaths caused by truck driver fatigue if it can be established that the company failed to monitor its drivers to ensure compliance with the regulations.
Source: FOX 19, “Authorities: Trucker in Morgan crash hadn’t slept”, David Porter, June 10, 2014