There is no question that truck driver fatigue leads to Florida truck accidents and car accidents. Numerous studies have shown that fatigued driving can be just as dangerous as Florida drunk driving accidents. Tired drivers have slower response times and can actually drift off at the wheel, sometimes for only seconds at a time, momentarily losing control of their vehicle. Drowsy driving causes many Florida car accidents a year, as well as pedestrian accidents and truck accidents. Fatigued truck drivers in a special concern, since the size of their truck can mean that any impact with that truck can cause fatal or serious injuries.
Since driver fatigue among commercial truck drivers in such a serious problem, federal agencies have instituted rules to ensure that truck drivers get adequate rest before heading on the road. The federal government has imposed hours of service regulations, which restricts how much time drivers can spend behind the wheel before they have to take rest. The same policy also restricts total time on the road, and requires commercial truck drivers to keep records of the hours spent driving and resting. However, some experts claim that more needs to be done to ensure that drivers do not drive fatigued.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has suggested new rules, which would cut the driving time for interstate truck drivers to 10 hours in every 14-hour shift. Currently, drivers are permitted to drive 11 hours in every shift. Under the proposed changes, drivers would also need to take more time off between seven-day drives and would need to take one-hour rests on longer shifts. The rule will be deliberated until October 28, when a final decision about the suggested changes will be made.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has already passed new rules as of 2010 to combat fatigued driving. In 2010, the agency passed a policy which will require interstate truck drivers to install electronic devices if they violate hours of service rules repeatedly. The electronic devices will gauge rest periods and driving times more accurately than paper log books, which can be falsified easily. This rule has been approved and will be in effect by 2012. The agency is also contemplating a policy change which would make it mandatory for all interstate truck drivers to have recorders onboard, permanently replacing paper log books for all truck drivers.
While some advocates claim the new rules will reduce the number of fatigued drivers on the road, some experts claim that the rules will increase the costs of trucking without having a sizeable impact on safety. Some experts in the trucking industry, for example, point to statistics which show that the number of fatal truck collisions across the country has dropped since 2004. Between 2008 and 2009 alone, fatal commercial truck accidents involving large rigs dropped 20%. Federal records also show that driver fatigue is the cause of as few as 2% of fatal truck accidents.
However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration maintains that while the drop in fatal collisions is a step in the right direction, the number of such crashes is still too high. As well, many experts say that drivers face tight deadlines and economic pressures to drive tired, especially now that truck companies are reducing the number of drivers amid cost concerns. Experts also note that statistics about driver fatigue can be misleading, since authorities often only cite drive fatigue as a cause of a truck crash in cases where fatigue is obvious or in cases where a driver admits to fatigue. According to some experts, driver fatigue is an underestimated cause of many traffic accidents.
If you have been in a Florida truck accident caused by driver fatigue, the driver as well as potentially the driving company can be held liable for your injuries. Florida law protects you and ensures that you do not have to pay for the entire cost of your injuries in cases such as these. However, you will need a qualified Florida personal injury attorney to fight for your rights. If you need a qualified Florida truck accident attorney, contact the Flaxman Law Group today. With offices in Miami, Homestead, and Hollywood, the Flaxman Law Group has already helped thousands of South Florida personal injury victims. Call today to arrange for a free consultation to discuss your case.