When it is fully loaded, a commercial tractor trailer can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Driving a large truck safely takes care, skill, and focus/attention on the road. A fatigued trucker cannot operate a vehicle safely. It is a problem. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that 13 percent of commercial vehicle accidents are caused, at least partially, by fatigued driving. Here, our New Jersey truck accident lawyer discusses the risks of fatigued driving by truckers, the regulations the companies need to follow, and your options if you were hurt in a crash.
A Fatigued Truck Driver is Not a Safe Truck Driver
Sleep is vital to physical and mental functioning. Most people are broadly aware that they cannot perform as well on key tasks if they do not get enough sleep. However, far fewer people are aware of just how profound the impact can be. A trucker who is working on inadequate sleep may:
- Have difficulty focusing on the road;
- Experience impaired decision making;
- Struggle to keep the truck in one lane;
- Show a reduced reaction time; and
- Fall asleep while behind the wheel.
Here is a good way to think about the extent of the safety risk. A person who has not slept for 24 straight hours shows mental and physical impairments that are equivalent to that of an intoxicated driver. A trucker who skipped a night of sleep is as impaired as a person with a blood alcohol level of 0.10—well over the legal limit in New Jersey.
Federal Safety Regulations are in Place to Reduce the Risks
The FMCSA has fatigued driver safety regulations in place for all commercial truck drivers engaged in interstate commerce. These regulations limit how many hours a trucker can drive in a given period. The regulations are as follows:
- 24 Hours: A maximum of 11 hours of work;
- 24 Hours: All driving done within 14 hours period; and
- 7 Day Period: or 8 Day Period: A maximum of 60 hours (7 days) or 70 hours (8 days).
Beyond the federal service hour limitations, all commercial truckers in New Jersey have a more general duty to operate their vehicle in a safe manner. A driver who is too tired to drive safely is negligent if they do not pull over and get some rest.
Recovering Compensation After a Serious Trucking Accident
Were you seriously hurt in a crash with a fatigued trucker in New Jersey? It is imperative that you are able to secure the full and fair financial compensation you deserve under state law. Our New Jersey truck accident lawyers can help you seek financial relief:
- Vehicle repairs;
- Emergency medical care;
- Medical bills;
- Lost wages;
- Diminished earning power;
- Pain and suffering;
- Permanent disfigurement;
- Physical disability; and
- Wrongful death.