When commercial truck drivers don’t get enough rest before, after and between their driving shift, deadly consequences can result. Back in March, a truck driver pleaded guilty to a number of counts of involuntary manslaughter after a fatal Carolina accident. In this crash, 5 people were killed. Now the driver is facing up to 5 years behind bars.
The accident happened back in October of 2010 in Henderson County. The driver was heading east on Interstate 26. There were a number of cars stopped on the roadway because of another accident. The truck driver didn’t stop — and slammed right into the string of stopped vehicles. According to investigators, the speedometer on the truck was at about 70 miles per hour when the accident happened. Officials cite driver fatigue as an important factor in the collision.
Our Asheville workers’ compensation attorneys understand that truck drivers have some of the most dangerous jobs out there. Motor vehicle accidents continue to be the leading cause of death for workers nationwide. But it’s not only the drivers who are faced with these risks. The motorists sharing the roadway with these drivers are at risk too when these drivers are not behind the wheel with adequate rest.
This North Carolina accident is just one of the many deadly trucking accidents involving these large vehicles each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were about 100,000 people who sustained serious injuries because of these kinds of accidents in 2010. In addition to all of these injuries, more than 3,500 are killed annually. When you compare these numbers to 2009, we’re looking at a more than 8.5 percent increase. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), driver fatigue is a major factor in about 15 percent of these accidents.
To try to put an end to these kinds of accidents, officials with the FMCSA have looked into tightening up the number of hours that a trucker can spend behind the wheel. Included in recent updates to hours-of-service regulations, truckers are required to have 34 hours of rest during each work week. This includes two nights of rest in a row. Officials with the FMCSA have also made it mandatory that drivers spend no more than 11 hours on the road in one day.
It might seem like a no brainer to the non-trucker, but the truth of the matter is that truck drivers and trucking companies are facing serious deadlines and lots of money is on the line with each delivery. These deadlines and profits shouldn’t come between the safety of workers or motorists.
Many believe that rules set forth by the FMCSA aren’t strict enough. And far too many truckers and trucking companies use loopholes and fraud to bypass the regulations.
Regardless of the rules, the facts are in the statistics. The trucking industry needs to do much more to help to protect the safety of employees and others forced to share the road.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a work accident, contact the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.
More Blog Entries:
OSHA Issues New Regulations for Injuries Due to Combustible Dust Explosions, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, April 8, 2013
North & South Carolina OSHA Programs Should Be More Transparent, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, April 7, 2013