Large semi-trucks are prevalent on highways and roads across America. They transport necessary materials from point A to point B. However useful they may be, they place smaller vehicle drivers at substantial risk.
Trucks are much larger and heavier than other vehicles on the road. When they travel at high speeds, smaller vehicles do not stand a good chance of surviving an accident if hit. Additionally, driver fatigue increases the hazard of trucks. How do the number of hours that truck drivers spend on the road put others at risk?
Truck driver hour regulations
Legally, truck drivers are not allowed to drive for more than 11 hours within a 14-hour period of time. In a 7-day span, they cannot work for more than 60 hours. In an 8-day span, they cannot work for more than 70 hours.
Think about your own long road trips. The longer that you are behind the wheel, the harder it is to focus and the more likely you are to make a mistake. Now imagine trying to complete long road trips day after day. Even if a driver follows the legal driving hour limits, the long hours can still lead to negligent driving or accidents due to fatigue or distraction.
Even greater risk for accident arises when truck drivers fail to follow these rules. Truck drivers may drive over the legal limit in order to reach their final destination sooner, and to pick up their next load. They may choose to chase the financial incentives of completing more work, versus the safety standards imposed by the 11 hour driving limit.
Inclement weather exemption
Another problem is the Adverse Driving Conditions Exception. Under this exception, drivers are able to drive an extra 2 hours (13 hours total) if they face inclement weather that slows their progress. This includes heavy rains, snow storms or dense fog.
Adverse weather conditions increase the danger of driving and require increased focus to safely navigate. Allowing truck drivers to spend more time on the road during adverse weather conditions undermines their overarching safety goals. The difficult conditions increase driver fatigue at a time when the chances for accident and injury are already exponentially higher.
How can other drivers protect themselves?
To defend yourself from a truck-related accident, be extra vigilant when driving near a truck. Give trucks a wider margin than you would other vehicles, do not cut directly in front of them, and watch for sudden lane changes or other erratic driving behavior.
Despite your best efforts, you or a loved one may be involved in a truck accident. If you are hit by a negligent truck driver, contact an attorney who can evaluate your case, and help you gain the compensation that you deserve.