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Sleep deprivation is a common cause of tractor trailer accidents throughout the United States. For decades, federal regulations have tried to ensure that truck drivers get ample rest before and during trucking routes. Unfortunately, in a business where the amount of money made is dependent upon the amount of miles driven, time becomes very important.
While sleep deprived driving has always been readily known among truckers, last month’s deadly truck accident crash involving comedian Tracy Morgan has brought the issue to the front of the headlines again. Prosecutors investigating the Tracy Morgan crash that occurred on a stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike, 45 miles South of New York City, report that the Walmart truck driver whose tractor-trailer slammed into the van carrying Mr. Morgan had not slept in more than 24 hours.
Drowsy driving has been a major cause of crashes and highway fatalities according to federal officials. Just in the month of June, drowsy driving has been cited in deadly accidents in Austin Texas, Marseilles, Illinois, Madison County, Ohio. In all, more than 30,000 people die on highways each year in the United States and crashes involving large trucks are responsible for one in seven of those deaths.
In 2013, federal rules reduced the maximum workweek for truckers from 82 hours to 70. After drivers hit this limit, they have to wait a mandatory 34 hour resting period before they can start their workweek. Under the new rules, this “restart” period must include two time frames between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The trucking industry has been battling to get these new night-time regulations repealed. Trucking officials have said that drivers need to be afforded greater flexibility in their work and shouldn’t be told when to rest. In Congress, Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, pushed an amendment through the Senate Appropriations committee that would freeze the new rules pending further studies. Ms. Collins advocated for the freeze as she felt the rules failed to take into account that the rules would place more trucks on the roads during peak traffic hours.
Sleepiness or fatigue while driving can cause the following:
· Problems with information processing
· Problems with short term memory
· Decreased performance
· Increased moodiness and aggressive behaviors
When drowsiness does start to come over a driver, the driver should stop driving and rest as the consequences of not doing so could be catastrophic, as a 76 year old truck driver found out five years ago in Oklahoma when, after likely falling asleep, plowed into a line of stopped cars killing 10 people.
If you have been injured in a tractor trailer accident, an experienced tractor trailer lawyer can help you sift through the federal regulation violations and to fully investigate the facts surrounding the crash to hold those responsible accountable. To speak to a lawyer or to schedule a free consultation, call the Manchin Injury Law Group today, toll free at 1-800-557-4LAW.