Truck drivers have hard jobs. Their work takes them away from their homes and families for days or weeks at a time. While they are on the road, they work long hours, often driving at night to avoid daytime traffic. Their sleep patterns tend to become irregular. When they do sleep, it is often in the back of their truck and only rarely in a motel or any type of real bed.
Even in the best of circumstances, tractor-trailer drivers get tired or fatigued. This is an extremely dangerous thing because trucks are so big and difficult to maneuver. This means that even a well-rested driver needs to pay full attention to the road at all times. Semi-trucks on Tennessee roads often weigh up to 80,000 lbs. Stopping a truck takes much more time than stopping smaller vehicles. Sudden swerving can cause a truck to jackknife or tip over.
Luckily, the government has recognized the dangers of drowsy driving. A variety of regulations and laws have been put into place to prevent truck drivers from being overworked. There are government-imposed maximum hours that a driver can work in a day. Truckers are limited to 11 hours of driving at a time, with 10 hour breaks mandated in between work periods. There are required rest periods during each work period. A driver must take at least thirty minutes off after driving eight hours.
Additionally, there are also restrictions with the goal of preventing a driver from becoming fatigued over the course of a work-week. After 60 hours of driving in seven days or 70 hours of driving in eight days, the driver must stop driving for at least 34 consecutive hours. This policy theoretically gives truckers something like a “weekend” each week.
Unfortunately, economic pressures and sometimes direct orders from employers lead truckers to drive more than the mandated number of hours. Tennessee truck accident attorneys often find that drivers have falsified their hour logs. They are able to prove this through simple math or through other evidence such as toll records.
Drivers who have been hurt in a wreck with a fatigued truck driver deserve justice. Depending on the facts of the case, their attorneys may be able to help them bring a claim against the driver or a trucking company. In some cases, the actions of other parties, such as shippers, can contribute to an accident and cause liability.
If you have been hurt in a truck wreck in the Upper East Tennessee area, the attorneys at Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, P.C. can help. Call us now at 423-797-6022 or contact us online for a free consultation.