Commercial truck drivers are responsible for transporting people and cargo across the country using massive machines that can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Due to their sheer size and weight, and inability to stop or maneuver quickly, commercial trucks pose considerable dangers on public roads and highways – including risks of serious injuries and death in truck accidents. When a tired or fatigued driver is behind the wheel of a commercial truck, these risks are substantially elevated.
At Martin Jean & Jackson, our Oklahoma truck driver fatigue attorneys are passionate about advocating on behalf of victims who suffer harm in accidents that could and should have been prevented. These include wrecks caused by tired, overworked, and fatigued truck drivers. Because there are laws in place that regulate the amount of time truckers can be on the road, we carefully investigate truck accident cases to explore the possibility of violations and trucker fatigue, and zealously fight to hold drivers and their employers accountable when their negligence causes harm.
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Over the past several years, researchers have found that driving while tired can significantly compromise a motorist’s ability to drive safely. In fact, one recent study from AAA found that driving tired can be just as dangerous as driving drunk:
Experts make it clear that tired driving can be exceedingly dangerous. This is due to reduced reaction time, impaired judgment and vision, difficulties with processing information, and decreased vigilance. While some advocates are pushing for regulations that will enable law enforcement to charge motorists with criminal negligence when they injure or kill others while sleep deprived, it remains difficult if not impossible to police drowsy driving for civilian drivers. Commercial drivers, on the other hand, know about the risks of driver fatigue and are required to comply with a number of regulations involving rest breaks and time behind the wheel.
Because trucks pose significant dangers to public safety, the trucking industry is heavily regulated. From driver training and certification to vehicle maintenance and cargo regulations, there are a number of rules and laws truck drivers and trucking companies must follow. Among these are Hours-of-Service Rules (HOS), which are designed to keep tired truckers off the road.
HOS regulations apply to interstate commercial vehicles that transport both passengers and cargo. For example, federal HOS rules for cargo-carrying vehicles include:
In addition to obeying these HOS rules, drivers must keep logs of their time on duty and behind the wheel. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of trucking companies to ensure their drivers do so, and to ensure that their employees follow HOS rules and all other applicable safety regulations. When they fail to do so and drivers cause accidents which injure victims, they can be held liable for damages.
Truck accidents can make for difficult cases, especially when trucking companies and their commercial insurance providers do all they can to pay victims as little as possible. If you have questions regarding your rights following a truck accident, including one involving a driver who was fatigued or overworked at the time, you can be confident about bringing your case to the attention of an experienced Oklahoma truck accident attorney at Martin Jean & Jackson.
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