Fatigued truck drivers pose a safety risk to the traveling public

Recently, the website for WVIT-TV reported a multivehicle crash on Interstate 95 near Stratford. A menagerie of vehicles was involved including a pickup, two passenger vehicles, a service van and, lastly, a tractor-trailer which was said to have jack-knifed. Several people were taken to Bridgeport Hospital and Interstate 95 was completely shut down for a time. Given that a tractor-trailer was involved in the crash, it is fortunate that no one was killed.

Truck accidents often create the potential for serious and even fatal injuries. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety explains that large tractor-trailers weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger vehicles. Because they are taller and have more ground clearance than automobiles, low riding vehicles can slide underneath tractor-trailers leading to catastrophic consequences. Perhaps not surprisingly, most deaths occurring in truck crashes are to passenger vehicle occupants.

In many crashes involving large trucks, driver fatigue is a factor. Commercial drivers are identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as among those most likely to drive when fatigued or drowsy. The problem is that fatigue makes drivers less attentive and significantly slows down their reaction time. When it is recognized that the stopping distance for a truck is much longer than for a passenger vehicle, it becomes apparent why a truck driver must be alert at all times, especially on highways such as Interstates 84, 91 and 95.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has identified fatigue and drowsy driving among commercial vehicle drivers "as the number one safety concern" at various trucking summit meetings given that drowsiness is proven to impair a driver's judgment.

In 2012 and 2013 new safety rules-known as Hours of Service regulations-went into effect. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, these regulations

limit the average work week for drivers to ensure that they have adequate rest. A study showed that drivers who were well rested were less apt to drive while drowsy and fatigued. The primary goal of the new regulations is to help truck drivers stay awake and alert while keeping fatigued drivers off the highways.

The new regulations were opposed by many in the trucking industry. According to Overdrive Magazine, a survey revealed that truckers disliked the new regulations since they have been left with significantly less income after the regulations went into effect. Moreover, some truckers also reported feeling more stressed and fatigued since the new rules went into effect.

Unfortunately, there are indications that some drivers violate the new regulations and work more hours than they are permitted to. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recommends requiring electronic onboard recorders for commercial trucks. These electronic recorders would take the place of handwritten entries in logbooks which can easily be falsified as to the hours a trucker drives. Electronic recorders would record precisely and accurately when the truck is being driven.

Seeking compensation for truck accident injuries

Most truck drivers are professionals who strive to drive safely. Unfortunately there are unscrupulous truck operators who, if given a chance, will try to evade regulations designed for the safety of the traveling public in Connecticut and elsewhere.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck collision caused by a fatigued truck driver it is important to seek legal representation. A personal injury attorney who has experience in truck accidents can investigate the facts, deal with the motor carrier and its insurer, and seek to hold accountable those responsible for your injuries.