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Trucking companies need to be aware of drowsy driving hazards

Trucking companies need to be aware of drowsy driving hazards

Truck on the road

When hiring truck drivers for their fleets, Illinois trucking companies often have a lot to consider. If they choose the wrong drivers, they may be held responsible for the damages that the drivers cause other motorists.

An Illinois transportation attorney understands that one of the key issues facing carrier companies today is drowsy truckers, specifically how to identify them and keep them from getting behind the wheel.  The problem has never been more in the spotlight than it is now due to the terrible truck accident in which actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was injured and one of his friends killed.

Morgan and his friends were being driven along the New Jersey Turnpike in a limousine van when a trucker failed to slow or stop his rig before crashing into them. The impact caused the van to flip and left Morgan with a serious head injury and a broken leg. Investigators quickly discovered that the trucker responsible for the accident had been awake for 24 hours at the time of the accident.

Numbers that should not be ignored

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Large-Truck Crash Causation Study, 5,330 accidents occurred in 2006 due to truckers’ inability to stay awake on the roads. Of these accidents, 4,876 were single vehicle crashes and 454 involved one or more additional vehicles. This translates into billions of dollars of damaged and lost cargo for carrier companies to deal with.

Unfortunately, the number of drowsy trucker accidents has likely increased in the past few years. According to the American Trucking Association, accidents are increasing due to the growing population of truckers on the roads.

Adherence to Regulation is key

An Illinois transportation attorney understands that one of the greatest steps carriers can take toward limiting their liability in drowsy trucker accidents is eliminating drowsy drivers from their fleets. The first step toward this goal is ensuring that truckers are following the rules recently issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety administration. These rules limit truckers’ maximum workweek to 70 hours, down from 82. Drivers are only allowed to pass the 70 hour mark if they rest for 34 consecutive hours, including two nights from 1 to 5 a.m. Truckers are also required to take a 30 minute break during the first 8 hours they work, and driving must be limited to no more than 11 hours a day. If drivers are rested, they won’t fall asleep behind the wheel.

Evaluating drivers for potential hazards is also key. Carrier companies should limit their fleets to drivers without sleep apnea or other conditions that make driving a hazard. While Congress has enacted regulations to assist carrier companies in making these selections, companies are still awaiting the new guidelines. Those who need assistance with the legalities of managing their fleets should contact an Illinois transportation attorney as soon as possible to limit their liability.

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