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How Prevalent is Truck Driver Fatigue in Florida Truck Accidents?

Numerous studies have concluded that fatigued driving is extremely dangerous and contributes to many Florida car accidents and traffic accidents each year. Fatigued drivers have slower response times and in some cases fall asleep at the wheel and lose control of their vehicles completely. Commercial truck drivers are especially in danger of fatigued driving, as they often work on tight deadlines, do shift work, drive at odd hours, and work many hours at a difficult job. As a result, federal rules have been in place for many years to ensure that truck drivers get the rest they need. Under hours of service rules, commercial truck drivers must log the number of hours they work and rest. The rules also mandate how often truck drivers must rest and cap the number of continuous miles drivers can drive before having to take a break.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance holds a Roadcheck program each year, in conjunction with law enforcement, to check for road and safety violations. In 2011, the program had the lowest number of out-of-service rates since 1988. However, in 2011, most of the driver violations that the program uncovered were related to hours of service violations. Critics say that this shows that there may be a problem with fatigued driving in the industry.

Roadcheck 2011 was a three day event which saw Canadian, US, and Mexican law enforcement officials working in tandem with Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance to check trucks at 2, 550 spot checks across the continent. The event was held between June 7 and 9, and saw a total of 70,712 inspections carried out. The inspections were carried out by inspectors with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. Medical exam certificates, driver’s licenses, brakes, lights, tires, load security, record-of-duty status, and other major security features and systems were checked with every inspection. According to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, 95.8 % of drivers tested in the 2011 program were able to pass their inspections. In addition, 80.7% of trucks and buses passed the inspections.

When a driver was found to be in violation of the rules, he or she was pulled out of service by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance inspectors. In about 52.5% of cases, drivers who were pulled out of service for violations failed to pass inspection because of hours-of-service violations. This is a concern, as these federal hours-of-service regulations are intended to prevent fatigued driving. In addition, inspectors found that only 14% of drivers stopped as part of Roadcheck 2011 were using electronic on-board recorder devices (EOBR). These devices are intended to accurately log hours on the road. However, there is no requirement that makes the devices mandatory.

Some experts say that as a result of Roadcheck 2011 findings, EOBR devices should be made mandatory and hours-of-service rules should be tightened to keep fatigued drivers off the roads. Currently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is considering proposed changes that would mandate EOBRs in some types of trucks and would see hours of service rules changed so that drivers would drive shorter hours.

The Flaxman Law Group is an established South Florida personal injury law firm. We assist clients who have sustained injuries in Florida truck accidents or other traffic accidents. From our offices in Miami, Homestead, and Hollywood, we service clients throughout South Florida. Contact the Flaxman Law Group today to arrange for a free accident consultation to discuss your case.

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