Truck Driver Fatigue

Are you aware that there are at least 8,000,000 big rig trucks driving the roadways each day? Unfortunately, too many of these people are driving their vehicles without enough legally mandated sleep. Fatigued drivers are one of the top causes of trucking accidents and disasters. Despite this, too many big trucking companies are overly pressured by their profit margins and Wall Street. This causes them to legally meet delivery times ahead of driver or public safety.

Commercial drivers substantially increase their risk of crashing when they become overly fatigued from excessive work hours. This fatigue can result in serious injuries or even death. According to a report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), at least 750 people die and additional 20,000 get injured each and every year directly due to commercial vehicle operators being overly fatigued.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented rules in 2003 which permit big rig truck drivers to drive a full 11 hours after they take 10 consecutive hours off-duty. Additionally, big rig truck operators are not allowed to drive past the 14th hour after they come on duty. Even this is only allowed if it follows 10 hours off-duty. Also, under existing rules, big rig truck operators may not be behind the wheel after they have been on-duty for at least 60 hours out of a 7 consecutive day period or no more than 70 hours if it is measured over 8 consecutive days as a measuring period. These on-duty cycles restart after a big rig truck operators is off duty for at least 34 consecutive hours.

Short-haul tractor-trailer truck drivers have different rules. These are big rig truck operators who generally return to their dispatch point after each and every duty tour and then get sent home. They may have one increased duty period of no more than 16 hours during each 7 consecutive day time period. This 16 hour exception put in flexibility for legitimate business needs while jeopardizing safety. FMCSA has estimated that without these additional 2 hours on duty, the short haul truck industry would have to hire a minimum of 48,000 new drivers. These additional drivers on the road would actually reduce or eliminate the benefit of time limitation for crash reduction rules.

As of now, the rules allow 10 hours behind the wheel within any 15 hour on duty period. This kicks in after at least 8 hours of time off duty. Also, big rig operators are not allowed to be behind the wheel after their 15th hour on duty one any single workday. The operators also cannot drive after they have 60 hours behind the wheel in any 7 day period or 70 hours behind the wheel in any 8 days period.

If you have been in an accident with a big rig and think the driver was tired or inattentive, we can help. Call Carabin Shaw for your free initial consultation and we can get started figuring out what, if any, compensation you may be due.

Are you in Corpus Christi? Have you you been in an accident with an 18 wheeler or other big rig?

Give Carabin Shaw a call. We can help. Call us at 361.444.1111, local if you’re in Corpus.

Visits with the Attorney are by appointment only. Main office San Antonio, Texas.

The Carabin Shaw Offices in Corpus Christi are located two blocks south of the Nueces County Courthouse in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Our Corpus Christi telephones are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 361.444.1111.


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