What if the Driver Involved in my Truck Accident Was Fatigued?
Part 4 in an 8-Part Summary of Trucking Regulations…
FMCSA Reg. Part 392 re rules of driving, fatigue, schedules
In recent years there has been increased attention given to the fact that fatigued drivers are a danger to themselves and others on the road. Numerous studies have been conducted measuring driver performance when tired, and they’ve suggested that driving while fatigued impairs reaction times just as much as, if not more than, excessive alcohol usage. The risk involved with fatigue drivers is only amplified when introduced into the context of commercial trucking, where you are dealing with extremely large motor vehicles transporting a variety of materials.
The federal government, cognizant of the underlying safety issues involved with commercial trucking, drafted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations (FMCSA) to take this issue into account.
FMCSA Rule 392.3 states that “No driver shall operate a commercial motor vehicle, and a motor carrier shall not require or permit a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle, while the driver’s ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle.”
This regulation creates a blanket deterrent for drivers operating while fatigued. To help effectuate this position the FMCSA regulations also outline an extensive “Hours of Service” system that regulates both the amount of time that an operator of a commercial truck may continuously operate a commercial vehicle, and what level of rest is required before an operator must get before he returns to work. You can learn more about the specific issues that arise out of “Hours of Service Violations” in another article here on this site.
The FMCSA has also attempted to address the issue of driver fatigue indirectly by limiting the way that trucking companies can construct truck schedules. Rule 392.6 states:
No motor carrier shall schedule a run nor permit nor require the operation of any commercial motor vehicle between points in such period of time as would necessitate the commercial motor vehicle being operated at speeds greater than those prescribed by the jurisdictions in or through which the commercial motor vehicle is being operated.
While obviously aimed at limiting general unsafe driving practices, this rule also indirectly addresses driver fatigue by forcing trucking companies to fix realist schedules
that are not dominated by economic motive at the expense of public safety.
While this elaborate framework exists, unfortunately violations are an all too often occurrence. If any evidence from the circumstances of your accident suggests that driver fatigue was an issue you should express that concern to a qualified legal professional.
Read Part 5 of Trucking Regulations…
What Duties do Trucking Companies and Drivers Have to Maintain Their Trucks?
– Back to Part 3 –
Starr Austen and Miller, specialized truck accident lawyers in Indiana, focus on representing individuals and their family members in serious personal injury and wrongful death cases, such as those often involved in Indiana truck accidents. If you or a loved one have been in a truck accident you can contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case.