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Increasingly Common Cause of Semi Truck Accidents: Driver Fatigue

Our Illinois semi truck accident attorneys recently read a report on SuwanneeDemocrat.com about a fatal semi truck accident that took the life of its driver. Shortly after midnight, a semi truck carrying a load of vehicle batteries drove off the side of the road – striking several trees. The truck proceeded to ignite upon impact, trapping the driver inside. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigative reports believe that the collision was caused by driver fatigue or due to an unknown medical condition because there were no signs that indicated that the driver had tried to avoid the accident.

When drivers of semi trucks become fatigued due to continuous daily driving hours, the risk of accidents substantially increases. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, over 750 people are killed and over 20,000 injuries directly result from semi truck accidents caused by driver fatigue. In addition, fatigue was a prominent factor in 75% of the run-off-the-road crashes. A seven year study was conducted by the FMCSA on Driver Fatigue and Alertness to help thoroughly examine this increasing problem. The study found night driving, as well as, the duration of driving played a significant role in semi truck accidents due to driver fatigue. It was also established that many semi truck accidents occur because drivers are unable to properly assess the level of their own alertness, in addition to, their need for sleep .
This increasing problem has led to many proposed changes by the FMSCA. Recently, it was proposed that semi truck driver’s hours-of-service be amended. This new proposal requires that drivers rest between 9-12 continuous hours each day. Any disruption in this off-duty time (by dispatches or trucking companies) requires that the driver re-start the time of their off-duty period. Additionally, drivers are required to take a 2-3 while they are on-duty. The recent proposal also requires that semi truck drivers be equipped with tamper-proof devices such as Electric On-Board Recorders that monitor daily and weekly driving times.

The Chicago accident attorneys at Levin & Perconti sincerely hope that these proposed standards help decease the frequency of semi truck accidents due to driver fatigue. Too many lives have been lost at the hands of truck drivers who have been encouraged by their companies to drive excessive hours. When driver fatigue leads to accidents that result in serious injuries or death, the driver may be held responsible in a court of law. The trucking company may also be found negligent if they failed to follow FMSCA regulations surrounding hours of service. Our attorneys have the experience and resources to hold negligent truck drivers, as well as, their companies liable for your injuries.

Please contact an experienced Illinois semi truck accident attorney if you or someone you know has sustained serious harm or death as the result of a semi truck accident to find out what legal remedies may be available to you.