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Driver Fatigue Causes Catastrophic Injuries

When truckers cause accidents on our roads innocent and unsuspecting people are either killed or seriously hurt.  A major cause of those accidents is preventable driver fatigue.  Every year, literally thousands of people are killed in trucking accidents that are not their fault.  The U.S. Department of Transportation estimated in a 2007 report that 13% of those deaths were caused by truck driver fatigue.

Driver Fatigue Equivalent to Drunk Driving

Studies have demonstrated that individuals who went 17 to 19 hours without sleep performed worse on various coordination tests than persons with a 0.05% blood alcohol content.  When individuals went more than 19 hours without sleep, their performance levels were equivalent to people with a 0.1% blood alcohol content – higher than the legal limit in the State of Georgia.  A National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) report on drowsy driving indicates that sleepy drivers have slower reaction times, reduced vigilance, and deficits in information processing, all of which leads to accidents on our roads. 

New Safety Regulations

In an effort to address the problem, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently issued new federal regulations limiting the amount of time that truck drivers can be on the road.  Among other things, the new regulations:

  •  Limit commercial truck drivers to an average work week of 70 hours, down from the previous maximum of 82 hours per week;
  •  Allow drivers who reach 70 hours to resume driving only after they have 34 consecutive hours off-duty with two periods of 1-5 am included in that 34 hour period; and
  • Require drivers to take a 30 minute break during the first eight hours of a shift. 

Potential Dangers

The hope is that the new regulations will prevent driver fatigue and save lives.  However, even with the new regulations, assuming a five day work week with the mandatory time off, that means drivers can legally be on duty 14 hours a day.  Combine that with simple time awake and efforts to increase profits, and it’s easy to see why there is a continuing danger from fatigued truck drivers. 

Trucking Accident Lawyers

We at Houck | Regas are dedicated to protecting our Georgia roads.  While we believe that more can and should be done, at a minimum, commercial truck drivers should be required to adhere to the new regulations.  Call us if you or a loved one has been injured by a truck driver.  We’re here to serve you.


Fri Aug 9, 8:43pm

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