Trucking accidents in Atlanta can have many different causes, but one common reason for large truck crashes is drowsy driving. Commercial truck drivers are often on the road for long periods of time, and they may be required to drive in difficult conditions and inclement weather. Many truckers also drive overnight to transport goods from one destination to another.
With so much time on the road, drowsy or fatigued driving is a common problem. What do hours of service regulations have to do with drowsy or fatigued driving and truck crashes in the Atlanta area? In short, hours of services are set federally to ensure that truck drivers of 18-wheelers and other large trucks are not on the road for too long without getting enough of a rest break. Indeed, hours of service regulations are intended in part to prevent drowsy or fatigued driving accidents.
When a trucker does not comply with hours of service regulations and causes an accident, that lack of compliance may serve as important evidence in a trucking accident claim in Atlanta. Yet even when a truck driver remains in compliance with hours of service regulations, it may still be possible to file a drowsy or fatigued driving accident claim. To be sure, merely abiding by the hours of service regulations is not always enough to avoid drowsy driving on the road. Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys can provide you with more information.
What Are Hours of Service Regulations?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets hours of service regulations that commercial truck drivers must comply with in order to remain on the road. These hours of service regulations are designed to ensure that truckers take breaks from driving for long enough periods of time that they can safely get behind the wheel without being at risk of a fatigued or drowsy driving crash. The hours of service regulations are also intended to keep drivers alert and performing at their best.
Overview of the Regulations
What are some of the key elements of the hours of service regulations? The following are some of the key regulations to know about:
- Commercial truck drivers carrying property cannot drive for more than 14 consecutive hours when they come on duty, and they must take 10 consecutive hours away from being on-duty before they can drive again;
- Commercial truck drivers carrying passengers, there is a 10-hour driving limit and a 15-hour on-duty limit;
- Commercial truck drivers need to take a 30-minute break for every 8 hours of driving, and the break must be for at least 30 consecutive minutes; and
- Commercial truck drivers cannot drive for more than 60 hours on duty in a period of 7 consecutive days if they do not drive every day, or more than 70 hours in a period of 8 consecutive days if they drive every day.
Hours of Service Regulations and Drowsy Driving Accident Prevention
As we noted above, hours of service regulations are designed in part to prevent drowsy driving crashes. When a trucker has gotten enough rest and has not remained on the road for too long, that trucker is more likely to avoid a drowsy driving crash. However, it is important to keep in mind that drowsy or fatigued driving crashes can happen even when a truck driver has complied with the hours of service regulations. As such, learning that a driver is in compliance with those regulations will not prevent you from filing a fatigued truck accident lawsuit.
Signs of Drowsy or Fatigued Driving in Trucking Crashes
What are some of the signs you might notice that could signal a truck driver is too drowsy to drive? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites some of the following:
- Frequent yawning;
- Frequent blinking;
- Drifting from the lane; or
- Hitting a rumble strip.
How to Seek Compensation for a Drowsy Driving Accident Caused by a Truck Driver
In order to seek compensation after a truck accident caused by drowsy driving, you will typically start the process by filing an insurance claim. When insurance claims are insufficient to cover all of your losses, you can then turn to file a truck accident lawsuit. Under Georgia law, most truck accident lawsuits must be filed within 2 years from the date of the trucking collision. For a wrongful death lawsuit when a trucking accident causes a fatal injury, the statute of limitations is also 2 years, but the clock will start to tick on the date of death rather than on the date of the truck crash.
Liability for a Fatigued Truck Accident Claim
When a truck accident happens because of a truck driver’s fatigue or drowsy driving, you may be able to file a claim against one or more parties. Often, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the negligent truck driver. In addition to the truck driver, the employer of the truck driver could also be liable for the crash, and employers tend to have deeper pockets than the truck driver.
Contact an Atlanta Trucking Accident Attorney Today
Truck accidents in the Atlanta area often result in serious and deadly injuries. Trucks weigh significantly more than passenger vehicles, and collisions with cars or light trucks can cause life-threatening and fatal injuries to those vehicle occupants. If a truck crash happened because of a truck driver’s negligence, including as a result of drowsy or fatigued driving, it is critical to find out more about filing a lawsuit. Our Atlanta truck accident lawyers can evaluate your case for you today and can discuss options for filing a claim.
Depending upon your circumstances, it may be possible to file either a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim under Georgia law.
In addition to filing a claim against the truck driver, you also may be eligible to sue the employer of the negligent truck driver, which may allow you to recover the compensation you deserve. Contact Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys online or call our firm at (404) 529-3476 to learn more about the services we provide to injured plaintiffs and their families in truck accident lawsuits.