Sleep-related truck accidents are still a problem

Bored man at the wheel of his car sleepingMore than 10.6 million trucks traveled on U.S. highways in 2012 and that number is continually growing, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The number of fatalities caused by large truck accidents in Illinois and across the country has also been climbing since 2009. As truck drivers strive to make more money and meet their deadlines, many of them spend too much time behind the wheel and not enough time resting. The result has been an onslaught of sleep-related truck accidents that have claimed the lives of thousands of people nationwide.

One truck driver is facing reckless homicide charges after he allegedly dozed off while driving through an accident scene. CBS Chicago local news explained how the trucker’s dash cam showed the driver closing his eyes and bobbing his head before violently rear-ending a woman whose vehicle was stopped at a traffic accident. The severe impact killed the 64-year-old woman, causing her daughter to take action against the truck driver and the trucking company by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

The facts

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, large truck accidents caused the deaths of 3,802 people across the country in 2012, which is a substantial increase from the 3,211 people who were killed in 2009. Illinois also saw an increase in large truck accident fatalities from 90 deaths in 2009 to 115 deaths in 2012. It is extremely difficult to determine what percentage of these deaths were caused by drowsy truckers, as most truck drivers will not admit to driving while fatigued. However, the Department of Transportation used a 2006 study to estimate that at least 13 percent of all truck accidents were caused by drowsy truckers.

FMCSA Hours of Service regulations

In an attempt to decrease the number of commercial truck accidents that occur each year and save the lives of innocent motorists, the FMCSA revised their Hours of Service regulations. The new regulations took effect last year, and require truck drivers to rest for at least 34 consecutive hours after completing a 70-hour work week. This rest time must contain a minimum of two periods between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Commercial truck operators are limited to 11 hours of driving time each day, and must take a 30 minute break within the initial eight hours of their daily shift.

Trucking companies and truckers are protesting the revised Hours of Service regulations, saying that the government has no right to dictate when they are able to rest. Yet many motorists believe that the new regulations will reduce the frequency of commercial truck accidents and keep drowsy truck drivers off of the road. People who have been involved in tractor trailer accidents may consider partnering with Chicago personal injury lawyers as a way to receive maximum compensation for their injuries, pain and suffering.