Drowsy Truckers Threaten The Lives Of California Motorists

California residents and businesses rely on tractor-trailers to distribute products throughout the state and across the country. Most drivers in the state are used to traveling alongside these massive vehicles and may not give a second thought as to whether they are safe or not. While there are many focused and well-trained commercial truck drivers on the road, there are also a surprising number of truckers who drive while distracted or fatigued. In 2012, 3,802 people were killed in large truck accidents nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Approximately 244 of those deaths were in California, and some of them may have been caused by drowsy truck drivers.

A Growing Problem

The growing problem of drowsy truck drivers stems in part from the American economy. The American Trucking Association estimates a 23.5 percent increase in the amount of freight that needs to be distributed across the nation from 2013 to 2025. Although the ATA reported a shortage of 35,000 truck drivers, this dramatic increase would require trucking companies to hire 100,000 new truckers each year to keep up with demand. This shortage may entice current truck drivers to stay behind the wheel for extended periods of time in order to meet strict deadlines and make more money. More time behind the wheel can lead to drowsy truckers and an increased likelihood for a tragic truck accident and injuries in California.

Federal Hours Of Service Regulations

In order to decrease the number of fatigued truck drivers on the road, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revised the Hours of Service regulations. These regulations dictate how much time truckers can spend behind the wheel. The new regulations state:

  • Truckers cannot spend more than eight hours behind the wheel at any given time.
  • Truckers must take a half hour break within the first eight hours of their shift.
  • Truckers cannot drive for more than 70 hours a week.
  • Truckers who do drive a full 70-hour week are required to rest for 34 consecutive hours.

Truckers are not the only ones found guilty of breaking federal regulations. In some cases, trucking companies can be found negligent for scheduling drivers in violation of the Hours of Service regulations.

A high-profile truck accident, which took the life of comedian Jimmy Mack and seriously injured comedian Tracy Morgan, involves just that. According to Bloomberg Business, Morgan filed a third-party lawsuit against the trucking company responsible for scheduling the drowsy trucker, who rear-ended Morgan's limousine on the New Jersey turnpike. The trucking company scheduled the driver to pick up his truck 700 miles away from his home. The trucker then continued to deliver the load. At the time of the collision, the drowsy trucker had been awake for 24 hours.

Contact An Attorney

Truck drivers and companies who decide to push the limit and violate federal regulations are risking the lives of innocent California motorists. People who have been injured in a truck accident may want to seek legal advice from a personal injury attorney.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury