A lot has been written over the past few years about driver fatigue. Experts have noted that fatigue plays a role in many fatal truck accidents in Miami and other communities, even though the issue is preventable. Legislators have weighed in with many solutions for fighting driver fatigue. In fact, just this year the hours of service rules were changed to cut back the amount of time commercial truck drivers can stay on the road before they have to rest.
One issue that often gets overlooked with truck driver fatigue is money. Truck drivers do not typically enjoy driving while tired and in many cases industry experts say that the problem is an economical one. That is, truck drivers are encouraged to drive longer hours and are financially motivated to do so. Many truck carriers pay by mile driven and the fastest truck drivers that travel the longest can often expect to get better pay.
Worse, truck drivers are not protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act, which means that they are not protected with overtime pay and other rules that would allow them to earn a fairer wage without having to drive for very long hours. When drivers wait at shipper’s terminals, for example, they are often unpaid for that time spent waiting for cargo to be unloaded and offloaded. This means that truck drivers may work very long hours but only get paid while they are actually driving. Hourly wages that pay for overtime and wait time would potentially improve driver safety and reduce truck driver fatigue, according to safety experts. However, there is no proposed legislation that would make this happen.
Truck drivers already face unsafe conditions. Many studies have shown, for example, that long-haul drivers are more at risk of some chronic illnesses, including heart disease and some cancers. In addition to that, truck drivers often face low pay unless they are able and willing to drive long distances.
Another money-related factor that could affect driver safety has to do with customer expectations. Customers have come to expect fast and even overnight delivery of a range of goods, often for free or at very low cost. Partly as a result of this, truck carriers try to increase profits not by raising costs to customers but rather by putting more demands on truck drivers. Since trucking is a competitive industry, some industry experts say that independent drivers and truck carriers will miss out if they follow the rules because others are willing to ignore hours of service rules and other federal regulations to please customers and to get more business.
Have you been injured by a big rig or tractor trailer? Contact Flaxman Law Group to find out what options exist. If the truck driver faced pressure from a truck carrier willing to break the rules, these may be multiple liable parties in your case and you may qualify for compensation for your injuries. If you have been seriously injured, you deserve assistance. Contact Flaxman Law Group for a free case consultation to discuss your situation and potential case with one of our personal injury attorneys.