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Excessive trucker fatigue may lead to accidents

Connecticut truck drivers know that fatigue is a significant problem. In a survey, 86 percent of Americans polled believe increasing the time truckers are on the road is counterproductive, and 68 percent would be willing to spend more money for goods rather than see this happen.

Driver fatigue is a major factor in truck crashes. One study shows that 30 to 40 percent of truck crashes are related to fatigue, and 20 percent are caused by falling asleep at the wheel. The chance a crash will happen is greatest after driving 10 to 11 hours.

To combat trucker fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has requested a change governing the hours a trucker may drive without resting. Currently, a driver must rest for eight hours if they drive for 10 hours. The proposed regulations would change the ratio to 12 hours driving time balanced by nine to 12 hours of rest. This means truckers would be allowed to drive for two hours more each day. Since accidents happen most frequently after 10 to 11 hours, some believe 12 consecutive hours of driving exposes truckers to greater risk. The proposed rules also mandate the use of an electronic device to monitor the number of hours a trucker drives each day. The device would prevent truckers from exceeding the limit and assure employer compliance with the regulations.

When a truck accident occurs, a trucker who violates the rules and exceeds the number of hours of permissible driving time may be in violation of the law and accountable for financial difficulties the victim experiences. An attorney may review electronic data reports to see if they show non-compliance. If so, both the trucker and his or her employer may be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit to recover both compensatory and punitive damages.

Source: Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, "Truck Driver Fatigue", November 09, 2014

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