Driving commercial trucks remains one of the best paid positions that requires minimal education in the United States. After all, truck driving is an incredibly demanding career path. Those who drive professionally will have to work very long hours, making fatigued or exhaustion a constant concern. Additionally, the process of loading and unloading trucks, as well as maintaining control over a massive vehicle for hours, can take a great toll on the physical body.
As if that weren't difficult enough, commercial drivers also deal with significant social isolation. Their job could very well preclude them from spending their evenings and time off with their families. Many drivers have to traverse the entire country weekly, if not multiple times a week. That isolation can lead to both drug abuse and the decision to use mobile phones at the wheel.
While it isn't possible for truckers to avoid the loneliness that comes with their job, they can make decisions that minimize their experience of exhaustion or fatigue. There are even federal laws in place intended to mitigate the dangers associated with fatigued commercial drivers.
Exhausted driving is so serious that the federal government has rules about it
The longer someone goes without sleeping, the more their exhaustion will lead to cognitive effects. Not getting adequate sleep can result in longer response times, difficulty focusing and worse decision-making.
For commercial drivers, the delays and cognitive impairments that result from exhaustion could make the difference between safely arriving with a load and causing an accident that injures or kills others. In an attempt to limit how many exhausted drivers are in control of commercial vehicles, the federal government created rules, known as Hours of Service rules.
These rules limit how long a commercial driver can stay at work. For example, commercial drivers cannot operate beyond the 14th hour after they come on duty. There are also limits to how many hours they can drive in a seven or eight day period. Unfortunately, some truckers intentionally break those rules. Also, just following those rules won't prevent exhaustion from affecting their work.
Those injured by exhausted truck drivers have rights
If there is any silver lining to experiencing a collision caused by a truck driver, it is that you have rights to hold that person or their employer accountable. Depending on the circumstances, you may have legal rights to take action against the individual driver, if they chose to drive while exhausted.
In some cases, such as a toxic culture at a company, the employer may share some of the responsibility for the crash by encouraging the driver to engage in unsafe driving practices. Research is often needed to prove a pattern of unsafe driving for an employee or an entire business.
Discussing your case with an experienced personal injury attorney is the first step you should take to connecting with compensation after a commercial trucking accident.