One Major Cause of Truck Accidents: Much Deeper than Sleepy, Tired or Impaired Drivers Operating Their Trucks
When a truck accident occurs, the chances of lives being lost, injuries being serious and other vehicles getting severely damaged are very high. Though the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) works persistently in implementing its primary mission, which is “to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries,” (https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/mission/about-us), the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) still register about half a million truck accidents every year which result to more than 100,000 injuries and close to 4,000 deaths.
In 2014, about two million semi-trailers, also known as trailer trucks, big rigs or 18-wheelers, were registered and operated in the US. This is only about 13% of the total number of trucks (which are more than 15 million) that were registered during the same year. With only 3 million truck drivers on active duty, this means that each driver will need to operate five trucks at the same time.
The lack of qualified truck drivers and the number of job orders that drivers need to complete within schedule spell a big problem in the trucking industry. With truck accidents continuously occurring, most of which, according to the FMCSA, are the fault of truck drivers who drive while intoxicated or even though when feeling fatigued and drowsy, it is necessary that the government realizes that there really is a much deeper problem than huge vehicles being operated by sleepy, tired or impaired drivers.
Despite the mandate on maximum hours of service and rest period for truck drivers, many drivers who lack sleep are still made to complete job orders and asked to perform extra chores. While some use stimulants to remain awake, others just cannot keep their eyes from closing, opening them when they get startled, but only to find themselves already very close to a pack of stopped vehicles.
This was what actually happened one August in 2010 when a big rig never had the chance to slow down, ramming a Ford Focus into another semi-truck and then careening into five more other vehicles, all of which burst into flames. According to the veteran truck driver, he has had only three hours sleep since his last duty and had his eyes closed prior to the accident.
Failure to hire qualified drivers, failure to make sure that hired drivers can and will safely operate trucks, and failure to give drivers the length of rest which the law requires them to have before their next duty, are all faults of the employer. Because of this, as explained by a Charleston truck accident attorney, a trucking company can be held liable for the negligence or errors committed by its drivers, especially if these errors of negligent acts result in accidents. Additionally, a trucking company may be held liable for failure to properly train its employees.