When you get behind the wheel, your primary responsibility is the safe operation of the car or truck you are driving. You must be able to recognize if you can drive safely, or whether factors such as intoxication, inexperience, distraction or extreme fatigue may keep you from doing so. Each driver is accountable for the choices that he or she makes while behind the wheel, particularly those that could negatively affect another person.
Just like other drivers, truck drivers are responsible for knowing when they should not get behind the wheel. One of the most common reasons why truck drivers may give additional thought to their ability to drive is fatigue. Fatigue is one of the leading reasons for truck accidents, yet many truck drivers are unaware of the true impact this can have on them and their ability to safely drive large, heavy vehicles.
Recognizing and preventing fatigued driving
For more than 70 years, fatigue has been one of the leading causes of accidents in the trucking industry. After conducting a study on the issue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that as many as 65% of truck drivers admit to experiencing fatigue while driving. Startlingly, almost half of the number polled said that they had actually fallen asleep behind the wheel. Fatigue can lead to slower reaction times, missed hazards, speeding, swerving between lanes and lower capacity for reacting to unexpected situations.
While there are restrictions to the number of hours that a trucker can be behind the wheel, there may be times when truckers drive too long or don’t have enough time to rest between shifts. There have been various efforts to decrease fatigue by increasing truck driver fitness, changing the compensation system for truckers and reducing exemptions to hours of service regulations. Despite these measures, truck driver fatigue remains a concern.
Who is accountable?
Regardless of the regulations set to prevent fatigued driving, truckers are responsible for knowing when they are too tired to drive safely. Illinois trucking companies also bear a burden of responsibility in establishing fair requirements of their drivers and adherence to safety laws. If you believe that the truck accident that left you injured could be the result of reckless or negligent driving, there are legal options available to you. An assessment of your accident could reveal the specific legal options available to you.