Fatigued Truck Driving Accidents in Florida
Fatigued truck driving is a serious and ever-present danger in Florida. It’s also believed to be a leading cause of truck accidents in the nation. A truck driver or trucking company may be held liable for injuries and losses that result from a fatigued driving accident.
Were you seriously injured in a crash caused by a fatigued truck driver? Compensation may be possible to help you afford treatment, pay the bills, and move forward in life. At Brooks Law Group, our Florida truck accident attorneys have been helping injured accident victims secure the compensation they deserve for nearly 30 years. We’ll work aggressively to help you pursue the money you need to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
At Brooks Law Group, we know you need results, and you need them ASAP. Let’s get started today. Call or contact us for a free initial consultation.
Why Are Fatigued Driver Truck Accidents Happening?
Trucking is a profession especially prone to fatigued driving. Truck drivers spend hours every day, often for multiple days at a time, driving down roads and highways. The nature of the job can be mentally and physically taxing, even when drivers follow state and federal hours-of-service restrictions.
Some drivers make the poor choice to exceed their hours-of-service restrictions to meet strict delivery schedules or because they have fallen behind due to heavy traffic or bad weather. In other cases, truck companies have been shown to pressure or offer incentives to drivers to deliver their loads early. No matter the cause, the undeniable fact is that fatigued truck drivers are dangerous drivers. When an accident happens, a thorough investigation can reveal who should be held liable.
How Dangerous is it to Drive While Tired?
Drowsy driving is a serious threat, especially when a commercial truck is involved. Long-haul truckers are responsible for operating massive vehicles on monotonous stretches of road. If they fall asleep while driving, the risk of a deadly truck accident increases dramatically.
Fatigued driving is widely considered just as hazardous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Fatigue can cause many of the same cognitive and physical impairments that impact an intoxicated driver’s ability to drive safely.
Like alcohol or drug intoxication, fatigue can negatively impact a driver’s vision, coordination, reaction times, and judgment. Fatigue can also cause a driver to become careless while driving, committing mistakes such as failing to check mirrors or signal before changing lanes. Being tired can also reduce inhibitions or increase aggression, causing drivers to engage in reckless driving behaviors, such as tailgating or weaving through traffic.
When a driver is tired, they may also succumb to microsleep, or falling unconscious for just a few seconds. But in the short moments of microsleep, a vehicle on the highway may travel the distance of a football field or more.
Truck driver fatigue poses an even greater danger since the size of commercial trucks means they can cause far more catastrophic injuries and property damage in the event of a collision.
Truck Driver Hours-of-Service Regulations
To prevent truck drivers from becoming fatigued while behind the wheel, state and federal law regulates the number of hours drivers may spend on duty or driving. Under Florida law, drivers operating solely within the state must adhere to the following hour restrictions. They cannot:
- Drive more than 12 cumulative hours after at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty
- Drive after the 16th consecutive hour after coming on duty following at least 10 consecutive hours off duty
- Spend more than 70 hours on duty over seven consecutive days, or 80 hours on duty after eight consecutive days, with these restrictions resetting after at least 34 consecutive hours off duty
Truck drivers who operate in interstate commerce must follow federal hours-of-service regulations, which means they:
- Cannot drive more than 11 cumulative hours after spending at least 10 consecutive hours off duty
- Must take a 30-minute break after eight consecutive hours following the last break or off-duty period.
- May not drive after the 14th consecutive hour on duty following an off-duty period of at least 10 consecutive hours.
- May not drive after spending at least 60 hours on duty in a seven-day period, or 70 hours in an eight-day period, with these periods, resetting after at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.
Investigating a Drowsy Driving Truck Accident in Florida
You may think it would be impossible to prove that a truck driver who causes an accident was tired — the adrenaline rush of a crash would certainly jolt anyone awake. However, you may find evidence that you can use to help prove that the truck driver was drowsy at the time of the accident, including:
- The driver logs, which show how long the driver had been on duty and behind the wheel at the time of the accident. If a driver violated hours-of-service regulations, they could be held liable for their negligence.
- The in-cab video camera, as many truck companies have installed cameras to monitor driver behavior.
- Surveillance or traffic cam footage, which may show the truck nodding off behind the wheel or driving in a manner consistent with drowsy driving.
- Eyewitness testimony, in which witnesses can testify to seeing truck driver behaviors suggestive of fatigued driving.
- Records or GPS data from the truck driver’s cell phone, which can also show when and how long the driver had been awake.
- Receipts from the route, which could have timestamps showing that the driver skipped mandatory rest breaks.
How to Avoid Drowsy Driving Truck Accidents
You can avoid becoming a victim of a drowsy driving accident by looking out for signs and behaviors that indicate a truck driver may be suffering from fatigue. Warning signs may include when:
- The truck drifts out of the lane, off the road, or over the centerline.
- The truck is traveling far slower than the pace of traffic.
- The truck gradually slows down only to speed back up back to match the pace of traffic.
- The truck abruptly moves to avoid missing a turn or exit.
- The truck brakes late for slowed or stopped traffic.
- The truck cuts in front of other traffic or fails to signal before changing lanes or turning.
If you suspect that a drowsy or fatigued driver is driving a truck on the road with you, pull off the road whenever safe to do so to let the truck pass. You may also contact law enforcement to let them handle the situation and remove the driver from the road.
When to Contact a Lawyer in Florida After a Drowsy Driving Truck Accident
You should contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible following an accident, especially if you think a drowsy driver is to blame. Your opportunity to pursue financial compensation for your injuries may be lost if you fail to act quickly.
Sadly, truck drivers and trucking companies who realize their wrongdoing have been found to destroy or falsify driver logs or other evidence (like cell phone records) that could support a drowsy driving claim. An attorney can move quickly to request and secure this information before it can be altered, lost, or destroyed.
A truck accident lawyer can also help if you are contacted by the trucking company or their insurer and offered a fast and easy settlement. A first offer rarely compensates accident victims adequately for the extent of their losses, especially if it comes before doctors can make a reasonable prognosis about whether a full recovery is possible. The only reason for a quick settlement offer is to get you to agree for as little money as possible. Don’t agree to anything until you have spoken with an experienced truck accident lawyer.
How Can Brooks Law Group Help Me?
If you’ve been involved in a truck crash in Florida and suspect the truck driver was fatigued, Brooks Law Group can help you hold the driver and trucking company accountable for their negligence by:
- Investigating the accident
- Recovering evidence proving the truck driver was falling asleep while driving
- Documenting the full extent of your past, ongoing, and future losses
- Filing your claim(s) with the trucking company and their insurers
- Aggressively negotiating for a full and fair settlement that provides you with the compensation you need and deserve
- Taking your case to trial, if that’s what it takes to secure maximum compensation for you
Contact Brooks Law Group today for a free, no-obligation consultation.