There are many factors that can contribute to a serious, potentially deadly collision with a commercial truck. Distraction by either the driver of the commercial truck or the smaller passenger vehicle can prove deadly, as can intoxication. Another serious risk factor all too often overlooked is the impact of drowsy driving.
Driving while fatigued can increase response times, decrease the ability to focus on the road and elevates the risk of falling asleep at the wheel. These are all incredibly dangerous when the average person in a vehicle drives fatigued. When someone in control of a massive commercial vehicle is exhausted, however, that puts everyone else on the road at increased risk of a potentially fatal crash.
The federal government limits commercial driving times
In order to reduce the number of fatigue-related collisions, federal regulations limit how long commercial drivers can operate a truck. These policies, called Hours of Service rules, are in place to reduce collisions and prevent abusive or unsafe employer practices for commercial drivers.
Truckers can only drive up to 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours of rest. They also cannot drive beyond the 14th hour after starting a shift. Finally, they cannot drive more than 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days. Tracking when drivers come on duty and when they exchange the wheel or rest helps enforce these rules and reduce the risk to everyone on the road.
Bonuses and delivery policies can motivate drivers to break rules
Sadly, many businesses put profits before people. They may choose to stress the importance of on-time delivery to their drivers, regardless of weather conditions, traffic issues or other factors that can result in extended drive times. Some companies offer drivers the carrot by giving out bonuses, either a lump sum amount or a few extra pennies per mile for on-time deliveries. Other companies use the stick, penalizing and even writing up drivers who arrive late, even if there's a legitimate reason.
This kind of company culture could lead to drivers intentionally breaking the law by driving when they should be on break or falsifying their driving and rest records. Breaking the law and violating the Hours of Service rules can allow these drivers to benefit financially. If that resulted in a crash that left you or someone you love hurt, you may have a case against the driver involved, as well as his or her employer for encouraging dangerous and illegal behavior.
Commercial vehicle accidents can result in truly catastrophic and life-altering injuries. Victims in these crashes deserve compensation for their losses, including medical expenses and lost wages. Sometimes, holding businesses with dangerous company cultures responsible is a better option for adequate compensation than simply pursuing compensation from a driver.