Fatigued Truck Driver Accident Lawyers in Naperville, Illinois
The long-haul trucking industry often requires dangerous driving conditions. Industries mandate long hours to reach mile quotas and often incentivize meeting these goals by paying truckers according to miles driven, rather than a traditional salary or wage. Driving when fatigued, however, can lead to serious truck accidents.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides specific hours-of-service requirements that must be followed to legally drive commercial vehicles. Three different hourly caps determine how long a driver is permitted to work:
- An 11-hour driving maximum that can only be reset after 10 hours off.
- A 14-hour driving window in which those 11 hours may be reached after coming on duty.
- A 60-hour maximum over 7 consecutive days or a 70-hour maximum over 8 consecutive days that can only be reset after 34 consecutive hours off duty.
These caps are set to limit the dangers of driving while fatigued, which can incapacitate a driver similarly to driving under the influence. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), after 17 hours without sleep, a driver experiences similar impairment to a person with a .05 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). After this point, the effect becomes even steeper: 24 hours without sleep is similar to a .10 BAC, a level above the legal limit in every U.S. state.
These consequences become even more severe considering the inherent dangers of driving semi-trucks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted 38,824 deaths on U.S. roads in 2020 (the number indicating total deaths, not the number of fatal accidents). Meanwhile, the same study estimates 5,215,071 non-fatal crashes in the U.S. for the same year. The number of accidents resulting in death amounted to significantly less than 1% of total accidents. Meanwhile, the FMCSA reported approximately 415,000 crashes involving large trucks in 2020, with 4,444 proving fatal, more than 1% of all trucking accidents. The size of the vehicles alone makes the consequences of these crashes greater.
Which is why safety standards that lessen the risk of long-haul trucking are so important. Failure to comply with the FMCSA’s hours-of-service regulations can place serious risks on the health and safety of drivers and those sharing the road, have long-term adverse consequences on a driver’s health, and place them at risk of legal prosecution.
If a shipping company has required a driver to violate the FMCSA’s hours-of-service rules, our experienced truck accident lawyers can help. There are several pieces of information that can prove hours-of-service violations:
1. Electronic Records
Utilizing log information from a truck’s electronic logging device (ELD), which are required by the FMCSA unless in the case of specific exemptions, such as short haul driving. ELDs provide more accurate information about hours of service because they are synched to a truck’s engine and cannot be falsified in the same way a paper log can.
2. Cellular Data
Texts, emails, calls, Internet use, GPS use – all can show information that potentially contradicts resting hours. Phone logs and text messages between a trucker and dispatch can indicate violations of rules. Certain internet searches and GPS use can likewise indicate driving during a period when a driver is legally required to be resting (for example, during the mandatory 30-minute break required after 8 consecutive hours of driving or surpassing the 11-hour maximum driving time during the 14-hour driving window).
3. Maintenance Logs
Most maintenance logs are still manually input, and therefore easier to falsify than an EDL that reads and records directly the use of a truck’s engine. EDL logs can then be compared to Maintenance logs to find any inconsistencies between the two.
4. Bills of Lading
Similarly, bills of lading can be used to demonstrate inconsistencies. These receipts of goods and freight delivered at the end of a trip are not required by the FMCSA to be timestamped. However, for their own records, the receiving companies often will include the time of arrival. These can show discrepancies in reporting hours of service.
Our team of Illinois truck accident lawyers have years of experience working in this field and can help provide the necessary letters of spoliation requiring trucking companies to maintain the relevant records in a case where a fatigued truck driver may have violated FMCSA hours-of-service rules. If you have been injured in a truck crash caused by a fatigued truck driver working longer hours than allowed, we will fight to get you compensation. Call us at (630) 527-1595 or fill out our contact form for a FREE evaluation of your case. And remember, you will owe us nothing unless you win.