Driver fatigue is the leading cause of truck accidents. Drivers that are too tired to operate a vehicle have longer response times and can also fall asleep at the wheel. There are federal regulations that state how long a driver can be behind the wheel each day and how much rest time they must have between shifts. Everything must be written down in a log book, including any additional stops made to drop loads, have lunch or take naps.
Sadly, many drivers find that it is necessary to forge log book entries to maintain their schedules, overworking themselves and creating a danger. Additionally, over tired drivers may also decide to use stimulants to remain awake behind the wheel. These stimulants can further impair abilities.
Federal regulations state that a driver cannot drive for more than 11 hours in one day without a ten hour break. Additionally, drivers must have a rest period each week of a minimum of 34 consecutive hours and cannot exceed 60 hours behind the wheel in any 7 day period.
Another cause for truck accidents is improperly secured loads. If a load is not secured correctly within a trailer, the load can shift causing the trailer to become unbalanced. At that time, the trailer can flip, be hard to control, or jackknife. Cargo that is on a flatbed or dump truck and covered by a tarp can also be hazardous if the tarp is not secured properly. Debris or product can fly from the flatbed causing a road hazard. Trucks carrying too much cargo are hard to stop and control.
Maintenance issues often play a role in trucking accidents. If the truck is not properly maintained, it becomes a hazard to the driver and other motorists. Brakes, brake lights and truck tires should be inspected prior to each trip.
Speeding may also result in truck accidents. Truckers know that many places have specific speeds posted for trucks that are different than passenger vehicles, but they fail to comply.
Passenger vehicles, however, can help themselves remain safe on the roads with trucks by following these simple steps. While not a guarantee, they may help provide additional safety on the road.
Be mindful of the blind spot. Regardless of mirrors, trucks often have a blind spot if you ride too close to their trailer. Remain alert to these blind spots especially when passing or when the truck is turning. Braking. Trucks need more room to brake. If you are in front of a truck, make sure there is sufficient room behind you when you brake. Crosswinds. Trucks can shield your vehicle from wind when you are riding next to them. Once you pass them, however, you may be caught off guard by a sudden gust of wind.
Drinking and driving is never safe. In fact, it is one of the most irresponsible acts a driver of any vehicle can commit. When a commercial vehicle driver, operating a 40 ton big rig drinks and drives, it can become deadly.
There are very strict regulations concerning commercial drivers and alcohol use. A Macon driver of a passenger vehicle is not considered intoxicated unless they register a 0.8 percent blood alcohol level. However, this percentage is cut in half for commercial drivers. Any driver registering a 0.4 percent is considered DUI, even if they appear to be sober.
DUI, or driving under the influence, also includes the use of other substances, including over-the-counter medications.
Facing deadlines and the need to move more freight, many drivers use stimulants, both legal and illegal to stay awake so that they can remain on the road. Stimulants may keep you awake, but they do not help your abilities to react to road conditions and hazards. Drivers using stimulants are simply unsafe on the road.
Many prescription medications, including those for ADHD and sleep issues, can also be a problem for Atlanta truckers. Prescription pain medication can also inhibit ability to operate the vehicle. Truck drivers may not use any controlled medication that is not prescribed by a doctor. Additionally, the doctor must determine if the medication will impair the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle.
Federal regulations require that all truck driver applicants undergo a drug test before being hired. Additionally, these requirements state that all truck drivers under go random drug testing as a part of their employment.
If you or your loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, you are encouraged to contact our office to have your case reviewed by an experienced truck accident attorney.