Truck driver fatigue and drowsiness are conditions that result in reckless behavior such as failure to keep in the proper lane and running off the road. Tired truckers are of such concern that in April of 2003, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instituted new hours of service regulations to curb truckers' problems with fatigue. While these laws have helped reduce the number of accidents, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board still blames driver fatigue as a probable factor in 20 40% of truck crashes.
When commercial drivers become fatigued from excessive daily and weekly work hours, they substantially increase the risk of crashes that result in death or serious injuries. Yet despite this serious risk to public safety, legislation is frequently introduced to Congress that requests longer hours of service for the trucking industry.
With miles and miles of highway stretching out before them, the longer truckers can drive the greater the potential revenue for truck companies. The average trucker drives 125,000 miles a year, and that's on the low end of an average. Trucking revenues totaled $610 billion last year and revenues are forecasted to nearly double by 2015. It is easy to see how profit can encourage truckers to drive further for longer hours, with shorter breaks, to increase their income.
However, profit is not the only factor influencing driver fatigue. A truck driver may be anxious to get home for the weekend, or 'push through' to avoid traffic snarls during rush hour. Truck companies may offer a driver bonus for extra stops, or the driver may be trying to make up for time lost due to bad weather or traffic.
Because there may be several factors influencing a driver's hours of service, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that drivers and carriers maintain logs, expense receipts, and other paperwork that track their compliance with current Hours of Service regulations. However, in order for existing laws to deter unsafe behavior they must be properly enforced.
Leesfield Scolaro has extensive experience with accident cases involving trucks and tractor-trailers and has strongly and efficiently represented victims of trucking accidents. Our firm obtained a $2,700,000 award in a trucking collision where our clients burned to death inside the cab of their truck when the driver of a 1985 International Truck, towing two trailers, crossed over the median and into oncoming traffic, colliding with our clients' vehicle. In another matter, our attorneys obtained a $1,900,000 settlement when a defendant trucker was driving in blinding rain storm and failed to stop at an intersection where the traffic light was out due to power outage. He broadside a pickup truck, killing the driver and seriously injuring the passenger. Evidence showed the pickup driver had alcohol in his blood.
In another case, the defendant trucker on a rainy day drove at a high rate of speed resulting in a 14 car collision including the vehicle of our client, resulting in his untimely and wrongful death. The firm obtained a $2,335,000 in this case. More recently, a $1,400,000 award was obtained on behalf of our client who watched her mother be crushed and killed by a truck that ran a red light. Her own personal injury case combined with the negligent infliction of emotional distress, and her mother's wrongful death case brought about this result. For a complete list of the firm's representative results, go to our Verdicts and Settlements section.