Many tractor trailer accidents involve drowsy truck drivers who operate trucks in violation of federal regulations.
Thousands of people lose their lives in accidents involving tractor trailers every year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,802 people were killed in large truck accidents across the United States in 2012. Approximately 244 of those deaths occurred in California, and many were contributed to drowsy truck drivers. The sheer size of big rigs alone requires them to be operated by alert, well-rested truckers who are ready to respond to whatever circumstances may arise. Sadly, some truck drivers stay behind the wheel for extensive periods of time without resting, putting the lives of everyone on the road in danger.
A look at federal regulations
From 2009 to 2012, the latest year for which fatality statistics are available from the NHTSA, large truck accident deaths rates have climbed across the U.S. In response, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revised the Hours of Service regulations, which are designed to regulate the amount of time truckers can spend behind the wheel. These regulations also require truck drivers to take breaks at certain times in order to ensure they are well-rested. Under the revised regulations, tractor trailer drivers that carry property loads are:
•· Limited to 11 hours of drive time each day
•· Required to take a 30 minute break within the first eight hours of each shift
•· Limited to 70 hours of drive time each week
•· Required to take at least 34 consecutive hours of rest following a 70-hour work week
Although these revised regulations went into effect in February 2012, some truck drivers continue to skip their mandatory rest periods. A surprising number of these negligent truckers end up falling asleep behind the wheel.
Case in point
During the summer of 2014, actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured in a tractor trailer accident. His comedian comrade Jimmy Mack lost his life in the tragic collision, according to Bloomberg Business. A truck driver, who had been awake for at least 24 hours, dozed off behind the wheel and smashed into the back of the comedians’ limousine. Not only was the driver held accountable for negligence for failing to follow federal regulations, but the surviving passengers of the accident also accused the trucking company of negligence. The company had scheduled the trucker to drive more than 700 miles to pick up his truck and then continue on to deliver his load.
Surviving the aftermath of a tractor trailer accident
Tractor trailers can weight up to 80,000 pounds and can cause extensive injuries or death in a large truck accident. Truck drivers and trucking companies should be held responsible for their negligent actions. An attorney in California may be able to help you organize a case against the responsible parties and get you compensation for your pain and suffering.