While truck drivers often drive long distances at a stretch, they are still responsible for obeying the rules of the road and staying alert behind the wheel. Interstate 95 and Interstate 20 – plus numerous state and U.S. highways – carry heavy long-distance truck traffic in the Florence area.
If you were injured in an accident caused by a tired truck driver in Florence, you might be entitled to compensation for the costs of your medical care, lost wages, pain, suffering, and other losses you experienced.
At Jebaily Law Firm, our attorneys know what it takes to hold at-fault truckers and their employers accountable for their mistakes. For over 50 years, our legal team has advocated for the rights of clients in Florence County and throughout South Carolina. We have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for injury victims like you.
What Are the Dangers of a Fatigued Truck Driver?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, drowsy driving is a factor in at least 13 percent of commercial truck accidents in the United States. However, the actual percentage could be much higher because it is difficult to test a driver for fatigue.
When a truck driver is too tired to operate their vehicle safely, they put themselves and everyone on the road around them at risk.
A fatigued truck driver is more likely to cause:
- Rear-end accidents – Lack of sleep can impair reaction times and predictive abilities, making it more challenging to brake appropriately when traffic slows or stops.
- Side-impact crashes – Sideswipe and T-bone accidents can occur when fatigued drivers drift out of their designated lanes or run red lights or stop signs.
- Head-on collisions – A driver who nods off at the wheel, even for an instant, risks crossing into oncoming traffic, potentially leading to a devastating head-on collision.
- Override accidents – An override accident occurs when a smaller vehicle becomes lodged under a truck’s trailer. These accidents can happen when drowsy drivers fail to monitor their blind spots.
- Jackknife and rollover accidents – A fatigued truck driver is more apt to fall asleep or “zone out” while behind the wheel, which can cause them to overreact when they snap to. That can lead to severe accidents, as semi-trucks are prone to jackknife when they decelerate too abruptly, swerve suddenly, or take turns too quickly.
Common Reasons for Trucker Fatigue
Some of the most common reasons that truck drivers become dangerously fatigued behind the wheel include:
- Hours of service (HOS) violations, sometimes encouraged by employers
- Inadequate sleep, especially over multiple days or weeks
- Long drives during odd hours, such as overnight shifts
- Physical and mental exertion from driving or loading cargo
- Illnesses like the seasonal flu that deplete a driver’s energy
- Untreated sleep disorders like sleep apnea and narcolepsy
- Certain medications, such as narcotics and benzodiazepines
- Intoxicating substances like alcohol and recreational drugs
How Fatigue Impacts a Trucker’s Driving
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. In fact, the cognitive effects of staying awake for 24 hours straight are equivalent to the impact of having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit.
Specifically, fatigue can cause:
- Slowed reflexes and reaction time
- Increased susceptibility to distraction
- Impaired memory and safe judgment
- Blurred vision and reduced spatial awareness
- Increased likelihood of acting before thinking
- Increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel
South Carolina Truck Driver Hours of Service Regulations
To discourage drowsy driving and prevent accidents due to truck driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has imposed the following hours of service (HOS) regulations:
- Drivers are prohibited from driving more than 11 hours in one workday.
- Drivers are prohibited from driving beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty after 10 consecutive hours off duty, regardless of rest breaks or off-duty time.
- Drivers are required to take 30-minute breaks any time they have driven for 8 cumulative hours without at least a 30-minute driving interruption.
- Drivers are prohibited from driving more than 60 hours in a 7-day period or more than 70 hours in an 8-day period.
These rules do not apply to drivers who operate within 150 air miles of their normal work location and do not exceed 14 hours of on-duty driving per day.
Establishing That Truck Driver Fatigue Caused an Accident
Proving fatigue contributed to an accident can be tricky, but an experienced lawyer can build a strong case by using the following types of evidence:
- Photos of the crash scene, as a lack of skid marks, could suggest the driver never applied the brakes or swerved
- Videos of the accident from dashcams or nearby traffic or security cameras
- Accident reconstruction models that show how and why the accident occurred
- Statements from eyewitnesses who saw the crash occur
- Employment, background, and health screening records for the truck driver
- Internal documents that show the trucking company encouraged unsafe practices
Potential Compensation for Injuries in a Fatigued Truck Driver Crash
Depending on what happened, you could be entitled to compensation for the injuries and other losses you have suffered, including:
- Hospital bills and other medical expenses you incur due to the wreck
- Lost wages from any time you miss work during your recovery
- Loss of future earning potential, if you suffer a permanent disability due to your crash injuries
- Subjective losses, such as the pain and suffering you endure due to your injuries
- Incidental costs, such as the costs of traveling to medical appointments
Contact the Proven Truck Accident Lawyers at Jebaily Law Firm Today
If you’ve been hurt in an accident caused by a fatigued truck driver, get in touch with the trusted legal team at Jebaily Law Firm immediately. Our attentive and compassionate attorneys can help you pursue the compensation you need after a crash that wasn’t your fault.
Contact our office for a free consultation with our truck accident lawyers in Florence.