Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyers on Truck Driver Fatigue

On tractor trailer accident lawyers June 7, 2014, a truck struck a limousine, killing comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair and critically injuring four other comedians, including comedian-actor Tracy Morgan. An investigation revealed that the truck driver was driving 20 mph over the speed limit, was in the last 28 minutes of his 14-hour shift, and had already driven over 9 hours. The driver was also sleep-deprived, not having slept in the past 24 hours. According to the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), nearly 4,000 people die in large truck accidents each year. The leading cause is truck driver fatigue. Sometimes, it is the truck driver him or herself who dies from falling asleep at the wheel. Thus, tractor trailer accident lawyers emphasize that it is imperative that the federal rules created by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are adhered to, which aims to ensure that the drivers are not fatigued while driving a truck.

Fatigue Causes

The most obvious cause for fatigue is not enough sleep, but other causes include working too many hours, sickness, or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Federal Law

The FMCSA is charged with regulating the number of hours a truck driver may work. Tractor trailer accident lawyers have summarized 49 CFR  § 395.5, which dictates the maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles:
  • Drivers may not begin a shift without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Drivers are permitted to work up to 14 consecutive hours. These hours include non-driving duties such as pre-trip inspections, waiting at the dispatch terminal, loading and unloading, repairing or waiting for the truck to be repaired, and DOT roadside inspection. Even work performed for another company or organization will count towards this “on-duty” period, even if it’s unrelated to the truck industry. Drivers cannot begin a 14-hour shift without first coming off a 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Drivers are required to take 30-minute breaks in their first eight hours of driving.
  • Drivers may drive a total of 11 hours during the 14-hour shift.
  • Once every seven days, truck drivers are required to take a 34-hour rest period (“restart”), which must include at least two periods of rest between the hours of 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
  • Even if employed by multiple businesses, drivers are limited to 60 hours of compensated work in a 7-day period or 70 hours in an 8-day period.

Contact Our Trailer Accident Lawyers

For additional information, contact tractor trailer accident lawyers at First Coast Accident Lawyers by calling 1-855-FAGAN-LAW or (904) 215-5555.

About John Fagan

John is a Jacksonville native who grew up on the First Coast. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1975 and went to college at Florida State University where he completed a 4-year program in 3 years. John graduated from the Florida State University College of Business in 1978 and went straight into Florida State University College of Law. While in law school, John earned a position on the prestigious Law Review Board serving as its Business Editor. As a law student, John studied in the Oxford program. He also interned with the Florida Legislature working in the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee. John was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981. John began his legal career as a law school intern in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville in 1981. After his internship, legendary State Attorney Ed Austin hired John as a full-time Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties). As a prosecutor, John tried jury and non-jury trial on charges ranging from DUI to Murder. In 1983, John moved from the State Attorney's Office to begin his career in private practice. He has practiced law for 30 years on the First Coast. For the last 20 years, John and his family have made Clay County their home. John limits his practice to personal injury and disability cases. While there are many fine attorneys in Clay County, John is one of only a few Clay County attorneys who limit their practice to personal injury and disability cases. John takes pride in helping clients resolve injury claims in ways that avoid the stress, uncertainty, and the expense of unnecessary litigation. Professional Activities John is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and has served on the Board of the Clay County Bar Association from 2009-2013. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and the Federal Bar of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, the Florida Association of Justice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates. Service to the Community John is involved in the Clay County Community serving as a member and Director of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, of the Clay County Bar Association, and the Putnam County Bar Association.
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