During the first week of June, law enforcement officers in West Virginia and across the U.S. participated in the annual International Roadcheck program. The three-day initiative, which is overseen by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, subjects commercial vehicles to safety inspections. This year’s focus was on truck driver fatigue.
According to road safety experts, hours-of-service violations are a top safety issue for commercial truck drivers. Under federal law, truck drivers are only allowed to drive 14 hours before resting. However, thousands of drivers regularly exceed those limits. In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were almost 33,000 citations issued for large truck hours-of-service violations across the U.S. in 2017. In addition, hours-of-service violations were the top reason trucks were pulled out of service during the 2017 International Roadcheck, accounting for 32 percent of all citations issued during the event. Drivers cited for such violations are pulled off the road for a mandated rest period. Some are also issued fines.
The FMCSA reports that fatigue, illness and impairment caused 157 fatal truck accidents in 2016. Of those accidents, 70 were attributed to truck driver fatigue or drowsiness. In 2017, new federal rules were implemented requiring truck drivers to use electronic logging devices for their service hours. The devices are supposed to make it more difficult for drivers to commit log book violations.
When a truck accident is caused by a fatigued truck driver, injured victims have the right to pursue legal action against the responsible parties. For example, by filing a personal injury lawsuit, a victim could recover damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and other losses. Victims could learn more by speaking to an attorney.