When Floridians are in a passenger vehicle and are sharing the road with a large truck, there is an understandable fear. Not only are these vehicles massive, but they travel at significant speeds and drivers can be distracted, negligent, reckless or under the influence. One issue that had receded into the background was the amount of time truckers spent on the road and whether truck driver fatigue was a factor. The vigilance drivers are required to have with their trucking log and oversight on the part of the Department of Transportation was meant to enhance safety.
Now, however, the DOT is preparing to relax the regulations and this is causing concern that there will be an uptick in truck accidents. With the problems that can accompany a truck crash – injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, fatalities – it is a legitimate issue. Currently, truckers are required to limit their driving to 11 hours during 14 hours on-duty. After that, they must refrain from driving for 10 hours before the clock resets. If drivers are on the road for more than eight hours, they must take a 30-minute break prior to reaching the eighth hour.
Drivers and truck companies have long complained that the rules are too strict. Safety advocates are concerned about drowsy truckers. The National Transportation Safety Board classifies driver fatigue as a pervasive issue. Truckers are paid by the mile and seek to complete their run by getting to the destination as quickly as possible. The rules prevent drivers from overextending themselves. In Florida, there has been an increase in truck accidents of approximately 9,000 from 2014 to 2018. Electronic logs must now be installed in trucks making it more difficult for drivers to flout the rules.
If the rules are changed, drivers of passenger vehicles will be rightfully concerned that truckers are driving beyond their limits and ignoring telltale signs of drowsiness with no downside or penalties for doing so. Since a truck accident can cause so much damage, it is important for those who were involved in one or lost a loved one to know the steps that must be taken for a full investigation and to seek compensation in a legal filing. A law firm experienced in truck accidents can determine if drowsiness or violations were a factor and use that information in the case. Calling for a consultation with a qualified attorney is essential.