The Issues Contributing to Truck Collisions Involving Fatigued Drivers

February 18, 2020 Truck Accident Blog

Driver Fatigue Influenced By Other Factors in Truck Collisions

Statistics collected by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show that 75 percent of the fatalities reported in a single year involved a collision with a commercial semi-truck with a trailer. The same study revealed that driver fatigue was a small factor even though it plays a significant role in many accidents involving trucks. Therefore, uncovering the other causes for the high fatality rates becomes necessary to build an effective legal case by truck accident lawyers NJ.

Truck Accident Lawyers NJ Determine Liability in Truck Accidents

Trucking law firms are uniquely qualified to sort through the myriad of factors that contribute to a collision with a semi-truck. The process of going through all of the possibilities can help narrow down the main contributors to the collision. Since the fatality rate is so high, the medical expenses and other forms of compensation that get determined by the courts also tend to be high. This is why the distribution of liability is so important to establish and argue effectively in the court system.

How Driver Fatigue Combines With Other Factors

Driver fatigue may contribute to a collision, but it’s not enough to establish that the driver was fatigued in order to assert liability. If the driver fatigue was caused by an action taken by the carrier, shipper, broker or agent, then the liability will also shift to these parties. To understand the role of driver fatigue in a collision, it’s critical to place it within the proper context of events.

Paper Logs and ELDs

Keeping a record of the driver’s hours of operation seems like a routine part of the job. However, paper logbooks are still used in certain vehicles, and these drivers face additional pressures to falsify their log entries in order to meet the deadlines set by their superiors. This doesn’t apply to every situation, but it is one factor that could contribute to an incident. The newest rules include a requirement for having electronic logging devices, or ELDs, on the truck. These devices record the amount of time that the vehicle is in service. However, there are still some problems with the system. The law that mandates the use of ELDs went into effect in April of 2018, but there are still some exceptions that apply.

Hours of Service Violations

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It’s important to understand that the hours of service rules that are issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, are often violated. However, the simple fact that the driver was operating his or her vehicle beyond what the hours of service allow isn’t enough to establish liability. For example, if a driver is stuck in traffic, the ELD won’t allow him or her to override the time recording system.

This could also become a problem if the driver makes it to a truck stop just in time to avoid an hours of service violation just before being asked to move the truck. The stress, pressure and fatigue can contribute to a collision in the parking lot in some cases, for example. This is one example of how many different factors are involved in every incident involving a commercial truck and another vehicle.

Establishing Direct or Indirect Control Over Working Conditions

The driver is liable for the portion of the work that is under his or her direct control. However, the trucking industry is organized in a way that places a series of indirect controls on the driver. This includes time constraints, for example. Delivery deadlines can place an enormous amount of stress on a driver who is also being constantly pressured by agents or dispatchers to make the delivery on time. This situation can become hazardous when it’s combined with a vehicle that is poorly maintained by the trucking company, for example.

Why Night Driving Happens

Driving at night is just as much a factor in increasing the risk of a collision as fatigue. It can be difficult for people outside of the trucking industry to understand why drivers are compelled to drive during the hours that are known to carry the highest amount of risk. The truck drivers whose rigs get loaded early in the day might not face this problem, but many drivers are forced to wait at the warehouse docks. This time isn’t available for driving, but the deadline for the delivery is fixed.

Although there is a tendency to blame the driver for continuing to operate during the riskiest hours when collisions are most likely to happen, he or she has no direct control over the delivery time. Drivers can face retaliation at work for failing to do everything possible to make a deadline. When a driver leaves the dock late in the evening, the number of miles that need to be driven has to be calculated in order to deliver the arrival time. However, this calculation is often done by people unfamiliar with the myriad obstacles drivers face on the road.

Traffic congestion, construction and bad weather are just a few of the impediments that slow down the trucks. The road terrain can also cause the truck to slow down. Curves in the road, mountains and other conditions are routinely ignored by the people who decide when the delivery time should occur. The enormous stress on the driver can make him or her prone to errors when faced with too many obstacles at the same time.

Additional Variables Present in Many Trucking Collisions as Shown By Truck Accident Attorneys NJ

Other common variables that cause collisions with commercial semi-trucks include intoxicated drivers, mechanical failures and distracted driving. The driver or the other party who was involved in a collision could have a BAC level that is over the legal threshold. Sometimes, the driver’s BAC level is high in the morning even after getting sleep the night before. This can combine with the fact that the first hour of driving is often the most dangerous because the driver isn’t fully alert.

Distracted driving can happen at any time, but it is a particular problem for long-haul truck drivers who must stay awake and alert while the road conditions are monotonous. Mechanical failures can make the parties responsible for manufacturing the trucks liable for this portion of the collision. Commercial trucks have a higher fatality rate than other vehicles on the road, so the type of lawyer you use to litigate these cases should also be qualified and experienced in this particular area of the law.

Effective Truck Accident Lawyers NJ at RAM Law

Additional problems can contribute to an accident, and these must be taken into account whenever a trucking law firm is involved in handling your case. The size and weight of these trucks make them more likely to cause serious harm than other types of vehicles on the road. This is why the various aspects of what caused the collision to occur are so relevant. Never forget that a unique set of events causes every collision. All of them can play a role in any crash, so it’s important to know that they could be relevant to your specific case as well. Contact the RAM law firm to get representation from the best truck accident lawyers NJ available. We have an office in New Brunswick, NJ, and you can call us at (732) 247-3600. You can also contact our Somerville, NJ, office at (908) 448-2560.

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