Tennessee Valley Truck Driver Fatigue Lawyer

Just before a FedEx truck crashed on Interstate 24 in Nashville, another driver had recorded video of the truck swerving in and out of its lane – a telltale sign of driver fatigue. The crash involved at least eight vehicles, and no serious injuries were reported, but fatigued truck drivers have been known to cause accidents resulting in multiple fatalities.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration limits the number of hours commercial truck drivers can work in a single shift and mandates rest breaks; however, driver fatigue continues to be a factor in many crashes. Some drivers and their employers ignore federal laws restricting drive time, and drivers who do follow guidelines may still be susceptible to fatigue. When operating a 20-ton vehicle on a high-speed road, a momentary lapse in alertness can have devastating consequences.

If a large truck crash caused an injury to you or someone in your immediate family, and you believe fatigue may have been a factor, call our office today – you may be entitled to a settlement that can help cover your expenses: 1-844-683-6229.

About Hours of Service Laws

The FMCSA based its Hours of Service laws on several studies, such as its own Large Truck Crash Causation Study, which found fatigue was a factor in 13 percent of large truck crashes. Another study found that drivers were more likely to drift out of their lane as the end of their shift approached. So in 2011, the FMCSA released its HoS rules, which limit driving time and require drivers to rest for eight to 10 hours between shifts. Yet, governmental agencies are legally allowed to disregard those rules, in certain situations.

Johnson City television station WJHL reported that during January and February 2016, some Tennessee Department of Transportation snow plow and salt truck drivers worked more than 50 consecutive hours, and some worked up to 80 consecutive hours with no sleep. Although allowed by law, due to the need to clear snow and ice from roads, this driving schedule places great strain on drivers, and one even wrote a letter to the TDOT commissioner, expressing concern that someone would be killed or seriously hurt “driving with so little rest for such a long time.”

Dangerous Behaviors

In 2013, a Brazilian university released results of a study about truck driver drug and alcohol abuse. The research team examined driver behavior in multiple countries and found that an average of 30 percent of truck drivers use amphetamines, presumably to counter the effects of fatigue. But the authors of the study noted that amphetamine usage can cause hallucinations and agitation and change a driver’s perception and reaction time.

The FMCSA estimated in its Large Truck Crash Causation Study that prescription drug use was the main contributing factor in 26 percent of truck crashes nationwide. The illegal stimulant methamphetamine has also been a factor in truck crashes, like the 2015 accident on Interstate 75 in Chattanooga that killed six people. The truck driver had been on duty for 50 consecutive hours in the days preceding the crash, and because records show he had tested positive for methamphetamine six weeks earlier, police charged the driver with driving under the influence of narcotics, along with vehicular homicide by impairment, reckless aggravated assault, speeding, and false reports of duty status (falsifying drive-time logs).

In 2016, several motorists called Bell County Dispatch to report a tractor-trailer which was driving recklessly on U.S. 25 East. Middlesboro police arrested the driver after finding a prescription amphetamine, an opioid medication, and methamphetamine inside the cab of the truck. In addition to being charged with drug-related offenses, police charged the man for driving on a suspended/revoked license and failure to produce an insurance card.

Fewer Deaths, More Injuries

In April 2016, the FMCSA released its report, Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2014. The report found that fatal crashes involving large trucks fell by 5 percent from 2013 to 2014, but the injury rate of large truck crashes increased from 73,000 to 88,000, or 21 percent.

The FMCSA reports that most truck crashes occur on interstates, and the high speed of travel, combined with the weight of a large truck, is why occupants of other vehicles are often very seriously injured when a truck crashes into them. Those injuries may be debilitating, requiring a lifetime of medical care and rendering the victim unable to work.

Help for Injury Victims

John R. Colvin has years of experience representing Tennessee Valley residents who have been injured in traffic crashes. If you’ve suffered an injury in a crash with a large truck, the trucking company’s insurer may try to offer you a settlement that is inadequate to help you and your family overcome the financial strain of medical bills and loss of income. But when you have an attorney on your side, you’re more likely to get the settlement you deserve.

Don’t wait to get help. Request your free consultation by filling out our online form, or calling us at (931) 962-1044.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama