Statistics from the US Department of Transportation (DOT) have recently shown that commercial trucking accidents are on the rise leading to thousands of injuries and deaths each year. The DOT has stated that one of the most common causes of these accidents is
- Driver Fatigue among others such as:
- substance abuse (illegal drugs, alcohol, and prescription drugs)
- improperly loaded cargo (overweight and unsafe)
- speeding, and
- inspections not made in compliance with DOT regulations.
Driver Fatigue, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) accounts for 13% of all trucking accidents. To remedy such the FMCSA has enacted strict legal guidelines for hours of service in which truckers may work. A truck driver cannot drive more than 11 consecutive hours, no more than 60 hours in a 7 day period and must rest at a minimum of 10 hours a day. §395.5
In South Carolina, the law for driving commercial vehicles is that “No driver shall operate a motor vehicle while the driver’s ability or alertness is impaired due to fatigue, illness, or any other cause as to make it unsafe for him to begin or continue to operate the motor vehicle.” 49 C.F.R. § 392.3. Truck drivers are held to a higher standard because they are professional drivers with a special license and since destruction from a truck weighing 80,000 lbs is significantly greater than the result of a smaller auto-to-auto collision, where the average car weighs only 4,000 lbs. Further the FMCSA has set such standards to protect the public’s safety at large to which truckers must follow in order to properly operate their vehicles. Such standards as properly inspecting the truck before embarking on a trip, obeying speed limits set by state government and properly loading the truck in both a safe manner and of a correct weight.
However, since many truck drivers’ pay depends on the number of miles driven these regulating laws set forth by state and federal governments are often neglected by the truck drivers and companies employing them. What this means is that as the multi-billion dollar trucking industry continues to grow with projections of over $600 billion dollars by 2015, a higher percentage of truck-related accidents will occur for the rest of us.
Pierce, Herns, Sloan & Wilson has proven driver fatigue in many cases. In the discovery process we obtain cell phone records, fuel receipts, satellite tracking data, bills of loading and other documents with dates and times. This information is used to prove that the truckers’ log book is false and to determine the true number of hours the driver worked without rest, proving driver fatigue.