Tired Driving Can Have Fatal Consequences
Earlier this year, a tractor-trailer driver set off a chain auto accident on Illinois I-88 Tollway that killed a Tollway worker and injured a state trooper. Crash investigators determined that truck driver Renato Velasquez had slept for only three-and-a-half hours and had been working for 38 hours at the time of the accident. They concluded that Mr. Velasquez’s sleep-deprivation was likely a factor.
The fatal January 2014 truck accident highlights the serious dangers of piloting a heavy truck with little sleep. In a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, Drowsy Driving and Automobile Crashes, researchers explain that sleepiness impairs driving by affecting the driver’s reaction time, vigilance, attention and information processing. Although any fatigued driver puts the public and her or his own life at risk, the dangers are compounded when the vehicle is a tractor-trailer, bus or other large, heavy commercial vehicle.
Recent revisions to Department of Transportation hours of service regulations are designed to prevent fatigue-related driving accidents involving commercial vehicles. The revised hours of service places more stringent restrictions on the following:
- Number of hours a driver is allowed to drive in one stint
- Number of hours a driver is permitted to drive during a work shift, including non-driving duties
- Number of hours of driving over a given workweek
- Restarts of a driver’s workweek
- Mandatory rest breaks requirements for long-haul driving
- Penalties imposed for egregious violations of the hour of service regulations
Mr. Velasquez violated these important provisions, and this fact is likely to come into play during civil lawsuits filed by the victims and their families, as well as when prosecutors decide whether to file criminal charges.
Truck drivers have a responsibility to safety, which includes getting enough sleep before getting behind the wheel. If you were injured in a Florida truck accident, you may have a valid claim against the driver and her or his employer.