Tired truckers are a primary threat to the safety of all motorists. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cited driver fatigue as the number one safety issue facing the trucking industry as far back as 1995.
Long shifts, irregular sleep and disrupted circadian rhythm can result in sleep apnea, poor sleep hygiene and other issues that impact alertness and reaction time. Reliance upon prescription medication is as commonplace as driving longer than the law allows.
An experienced semi truck accident attorney in Atlanta knows confirming a trucker's compliance with federal Hours-of-Service regulations will be one of the first priorities following a serious or fatal trucking accident.
It's a critical safety issue. More than 400,000 commercial trucking accidents are reported each year, claiming the lives of 3,700 vehicle passengers and drivers.
Georgia Trucker Fatigue and Crash Liability
Truckers play a vital role in the nation's economy. Atlanta in particular is among the nation's largest shipping hubs.
"If you bought it, a truck brought it," says Gary Martin Hays, noting the professionalism and dedication most commercial drivers bring to the road. However, a nationwide trucker shortage has truckers working harder than ever. Even the most conscientious driver may be pushed to bend safety rules when pressured by employers, shipping companies or freight owners.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration limits truckers to 11 hours of driving duty, followed by 10 consecutive hours off duty. Truckers may not drive beyond 14 hours (counting breaks) after coming on duty and may not drive more than 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days.
For decades, drivers have been permitted to self-report compliance with these hours-of-service rules using paper log books, which left the system riddled with fraud. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Transportation is in the process of requiring all long-distance truckers to use electronic data recorders, which should more accurately record hours-of-service compliance.
Civil Lawsuits and Georgia Trucking Accidents
All drivers have a duty to exercise care while operating a motor vehicle. Thus, while non-compliance with HOS rules may be proof of negligence, even a compliant driver may be found liable for victim injuries. In many cases, the bigger challenge is identifying all responsible parties and their associated insurance carriers. The trucking industry is notorious for using independent contractors, truck leasing companies and limited liability corporations to limit exposure to liability because they know serious and fatal accidents are probable.
Your chosen law firm should have significant trucking accident litigation experience and the knowledge and resources to prevail in pursing a case against the trucking industry. That's why you should contact Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. and find out how we can help you.