George R. Tucker, Attorney at Law George R. Tucker, Attorney at Law
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Hours of service regulations meant to combat truck driver fatigue

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recognizes the threat of drowsy commercial vehicle drivers. That's why the agency's regulations set 11 hours as the maximum amount of time that truck drivers can transport property cargo without a break. While anyone can fall asleep behind the wheel in Louisiana, truck drivers have a higher risk of this dangerous behavior because of their demanding work schedules and deadline pressures.

A truck driver who is too tired to pay attention to traffic or completely falls asleep poses an enhanced risk to motorists and pedestrians because of the large size of big rigs. When these heavy vehicles get into wrecks, people could suffer catastrophic injuries or even die.

In any given year, the government estimates that sleepy drivers contribute to approximately 100,000 crashes every year. Drowsiness behind the wheel can be as hazardous as intoxication from alcohol. Sleepy drivers have a reduced ability to evaluate their surroundings or respond to traffic issues. When truck drivers find themselves drifting from their lanes, yawning uncontrollably or feeling sleepy, they should stop and rest. Their well-being and public safety matter more than meeting a delivery deadline.

Unfortunately, some employers base bonuses on speedy delivery, which might prompt a driver to try to stay awake despite fatigue. A victim of a crash caused by a sleepy truck driver might pursue damages with the assistance of an attorney familiar with personal injury law and truck accidents. If an attorney's investigation finds evidence of truck driver fatigue, such as hours of service violations or documentation in a police report, then a claim based on negligence could go forward. An attorney could file a lawsuit against the transportation company and its insurer. Legal support might allow an injury victim to overcome attempts to avoid paying an adequate settlement.

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