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Efforts to Curb Fatigued Truck Driving Are Halted

Efforts to Curb Fatigued Truck Driving Are Halted

In 2016, an investigation in the aftermath of a deadly train accident in New Jersey identified that the operator of the train had a medical condition called sleep apnea. When treated properly, the effects of sleep apnea can be controlled. However, when sleep apnea goes undiagnosed or untreated, it can result in severe fatigue throughout the day. Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) authorities believed that the operator fell asleep at the controls and warned of the necessity of testing all train operators for sleep apnea to ensure they received the required treatment. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) agreed that all commercial truck drivers should also be tested for sleep apnea. The FMCSA estimates that 13 percent of truck drivers who crashed were determined to have been overly fatigued and regular testing for sleep apnea is one way to curb fatigued driving for commercial drivers. Under the Obama Administration, these agencies set out to propose regulations that would require such testing for train and truck drivers as part of their license approval and renewal. However, on trend with the new administration’s cutback of federal regulatory action, the FRA and FMCSA have now announced they are no longer trying to enact new rules regarding sleep apnea testing. Many safety advocates and experts have spoken against this decision, stating it puts motorists at an unnecessary risk of fatigued driving accidents. How Sleep Apnea Can Affect Driving Ability Most people associate fatigued driving with truckers who violate hours of service rules and drive extended shifts. However, even if truck drivers stay within the limits of allowed driving shifts, there are other reasons...
Is There a Hidden Cause of Fatigued Driving in Truck Drivers?

Is There a Hidden Cause of Fatigued Driving in Truck Drivers?

Because they spend hours and days on end behind the wheel, a major concern regarding truck drivers is fatigued driving. When a driver becomes seriously fatigued, the effects can be similar to intoxication, as a driver will lose the ability to focus on the road, will have slower reflexes, and will have lessened decision-making skills. In addition, if a truck driver falls asleep behind the wheel, a massive vehicle that potentially weighs 80,000 pounds will be barreling out of control down the highway, possibly taking out anything in its path. A main culprit of fatigued driving is the long hours on the often monotonous highway. In response to this, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enacted and enforces strict hours of service limitations, which restrict the number of consecutive hours or days a truck driver can be working without taking a certain period of rest. However, even with hours of service regulations, truck accidents continue to occur due to fatigued drivers. Recently, the FMCSA has been paying closer attention to a health condition that may be contributing to fatigued driving among commercial drivers – obstructive sleep apnea. What is Sleep Apnea? Sleep apnea is a condition that reportedly affects approximately 22 million people across the United States. The condition causes a pause in breathing during sleep and these pauses can happen hundreds of times in a single night. When the person stops breathing, they will wake up briefly to restart their breathing. This means that people with obstructive sleep apnea may involuntarily wake up as much as 30 times per hour during the night and such disruptive sleep can...
Traveling Alongside Large Commercial Trucks

Traveling Alongside Large Commercial Trucks

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that more than 10 million commercial trucks and almost 1 million buses were registered in the U.S. in recent years. While not all of these vehicles are in operation on a daily basis, at any given moment there are hundreds of thousands of commercial trucks on the highways in Florida and across the country. The number of trucks on the roads only increases during the holiday season, as many stores increase their inventory and replenish more often to accommodate the needs of holiday shoppers. In addition, the holidays also mean an increase in travelers on the roads, as the majority of travelers choose to drive to their destinations, as opposed to flying or taking a train. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported that 91 percent of holiday travelers will drive each year. The increase in both commercial trucks and cars results in an increased risk of collisions. When a large truck crashes into your small personal vehicle, devastating damage can occur as these trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Driving Safely Next to Trucks There are several things you can remember in order to reach your destination safely this holiday season and avoid truck accidents and injuries, some of which include: Blind Spots – While every car has some blind spots, large trucks have major blind zones called “no-zones.” These zones exist in front of the truck, behind the truck, and on both sides of the truck and you should always be certain to avoid lingering in these zones whenever possible. Lane Changes...
I was in a truck accident – who is liable for my injuries?

I was in a truck accident – who is liable for my injuries?

The question of liability for your truck accident claim will depend on a number of factors.  Individuals involved in auto accidents tend to sustain much more serious and devastating injuries when trucks are involved in those accidents.  More often than not, small passenger vehicles hardly stand a chance against large trucks and as a result, sustain more damage.  If you or a loved one were involved in a truck accident, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. Who is Liable? It can be difficult determining who will be held responsible for your injuries because there are often many parties involved in trucking accidents.  But that’s where we come in: an experienced truck accident attorney can investigate your claim and help you identify all of the parties who may be responsible.  Some of the parties who may be liable include: Truck drivers: These are many examples of driving behaviors that are commonly responsible for causing truck accidents.  For instance, many times truck drivers may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding in order to reach their destination, and are often driving while fatigued or distracted. Trucking companies: Employers are responsible for complying with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety regulations.  This includes offering proper training to truck drivers and being responsible for the actions of their employees.  As a result, there is a wide range of negligent actions that victims of truck accidents can hold the trucking companies liable for. Truck manufacturers: Often, commercial trucks that suffer tire blowouts or have defective brakes have been the cause of many truck accidents.  In those cases, when...
How Driver Negligence can Lead to Truck Accidents (Part 2)

How Driver Negligence can Lead to Truck Accidents (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this article, we discussed how truck driver negligence is the leading cause of commercial truck accidents in the United States. Commercial truck accidents have the potential to cause catastrophic and often fatal injuries to other motorists. If a truck driver caused such injuries, the affected victims have the legal right to compensation for all of their accident-related losses, including medical costs, lost income or earning ability, permanent disabilities, disfigurement, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, loss of enjoyment of life, wrongful death, and more depending on your particular situation.   Part 1 addressed how distracted driving, fatigued driving, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can lead to severe truck accidents. The following are some of the additional ways in which truck drivers may be negligent and cause collisions and injuries.   Driving with a serious health issue – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will only issue a commercial driver’s license to an individual if they pass a physical examination and a medical professional signs off that the individual is in sufficient health [1] to operate a large truck without substantial risk. Some health conditions that may disqualify a driver include the following: Heart disease and other conditions with a high risk for heart attack Blood clots Risk of stroke Seizure disorders such as epilepsy Diabetes with risk of seizure Vision or hearing impairments Arthritis, muscle weakness, or bone disorders that can cause difficulty controlling the pedals or steering wheel of the truck Mental health conditions that may impede judgment   Even if a truck driver passes an examination, they may develop a dangerous...
How Driver Negligence can Lead to Truck Accidents (Part 1)

How Driver Negligence can Lead to Truck Accidents (Part 1)

  According to a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), [1] driver error is the most common cause of commercial truck accidents in the United States. Commercial drivers are entrusted with operating extremely large, heavy vehicles alongside smaller passenger vehicles on a daily basis. To protect other motorists, truck drivers must undergo specialized training and obtain a commercial driver’s license in order to lawfully operate any type of commercial vehicle.   In addition, the FMCSA has many regulations and rules that apply to commercial truck drivers that do not apply to drivers of regular vehicles. If a driver violates any of these provisions or otherwise chooses to drive in a negligent manner, that truck driver should be held fully liable for any of the truck accidents and injuries that result from their behavior. The following are only some examples of truck driver negligence that can often lead to serious collisions and injuries.   Distracted driving – If a large truck swerves from its lane even slightly or fails to brake in time for slowing or stopped traffic, devastating collisions can result. For this reason, it is critical for all commercial truck drivers to keep their eyes on the road and their focus on driving whenever possible. However, driving a truck can be monotonous and often boring. Drivers spend long hours, often alone in the cab, on roads they have traveled many times before. It is not surprising that drivers look for ways to entertain themselves, including talking to loved ones on the phone, listening to audiobooks, talking over the CB radio, and more. However, distracted driving is...