On June 7, 2014, a truck struck a limousine, killing comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair and critically injuring four other comedians, including comedian-actor Tracy Morgan. An investigation revealed that the truck driver was driving 20 mph over the speed limit, was in the last 28 minutes of his 14-hour shift, and had already driven over 9 hours. The driver was also sleep-deprived, not having slept in the past 24 hours.
According to the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), nearly 4,000 people die in large truck accidents each year. The leading cause is truck driver fatigue. Sometimes, it is the truck driver him or herself who dies from falling asleep at the wheel. Thus, tractor trailer accident lawyers emphasize that it is imperative that the federal rules created by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are adhered to, which aims to ensure that the drivers are not fatigued while driving a truck.
The most obvious cause for fatigue is not enough sleep, but other causes include working too many hours, sickness, or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The FMCSA is charged with regulating the number of hours a truck driver may work. Tractor trailer accident lawyers have summarized 49 CFR § 395.5, which dictates the maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles:
- Drivers may not begin a shift without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- Drivers are permitted to work up to 14 consecutive hours. These hours include non-driving duties such as pre-trip inspections, waiting at the dispatch terminal, loading and unloading, repairing or waiting for the truck to be repaired, and DOT roadside inspection. Even work performed for another company or organization will count towards this “on-duty” period, even if it’s unrelated to the truck industry. Drivers cannot begin a 14-hour shift without first coming off a 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- Drivers are required to take 30-minute breaks in their first eight hours of driving.
- Drivers may drive a total of 11 hours during the 14-hour shift.
- Once every seven days, truck drivers are required to take a 34-hour rest period (“restart”), which must include at least two periods of rest between the hours of 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
- Even if employed by multiple businesses, drivers are limited to 60 hours of compensated work in a 7-day period or 70 hours in an 8-day period.
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For additional information, contact tractor trailer accident lawyers at John Fagan Accident Lawyers by calling 1-855-FAGAN-LAW or (904) 215-5555.