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Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer warns trucking companies that encourage fatigued driving put lives in jeopardy

Daniel MunleyA recent report by ABC’s 20 20, focused on the dangers of forcing truck drivers to drive sleep deprived. ABC reported that big rigs are involved in 868 crashes every day in in the U.S. When truck drivers are overworked and sleep-deprived, the risk to themselves and the public can be deadly.

That National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2012, there were more than 330,000 large truck crashes resulting in 3921 deaths and 104,000 injuries. State troopers interviewed by ABC news said that truck crashes are catastrophic.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), more deaths in large truck accidents are passenger vehicle occupants, because trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger cars. Truck braking capability is also a factor in truck crashes, as a loaded tractor-trailer takes 20-40 percent farther than cars to stop.

The IIHS also reported that although drivers of large trucks are allowed by federal hours-of-service regulations to drive up to 11 hours at a stretch and up to 77 hours over a seven-day period, surveys indicate that many drivers violate the regulations and work longer than permitted.

20 20 found that to be true, reporting that tight deadlines can mean more hours on the road with fewer chances to rest. Because drivers are only paid when they are driving, many resort to falsifying logbooks so they can stay on the road.

The 20 20 investigation focused on one driver who was having trouble staying awake while hauling tomatoes on a 400-mile trip. He called his dispatcher and reported that he was tired and couldn’t continue to drive. The response of the dispatcher, caught on tape, was appalling. He told the driver to drink some coffee and to walk around the truck, which the driver had already tried. He passed him along to another dispatcher who again told him to get some coffee. The truck driver expressed again how tired he was and that he was afraid he might hurt someone if he drove in this condition. The dispatcher made it clear that he did not care; he just wanted the merchandise to be delivered on time. He also threatened the driver’s pay. After a long battle, and the driver refusing to drive, the dispatcher finally sent another driver to relieve him. The truck driver told ABC that this is the kind of treatment that drivers have been putting up with for so long, because their jobs are on the line.

After hearing the tape, the head of the American Trucking Associations, Bill Graves, who was also interviewed by 20 20, said that “There’s just too much at stake when you have a commercial vehicle with some sort of payload going down the nation’s highways with a fatigued driver.”

The American Trucking Associations reported that nearly 70% of the freight tonnage moved in the U.S. goes on trucks. To move 9.2 billion tons of freight annually requires 3 million heavy-duty trucks and over 3 million truck drivers. That’s a lot of trucks on the road every day.

A sleep-deprived trucker driving a 15-ton vehicle down a highway is a tragic accident waiting to happen as we see in the news every day. Fatigued driving is a leading cause of crashes and highway fatalities. The only safe driver is an alert driver.

If you have been injured in a truck accident, the personal injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys can fight for you. We’ve represented thousands of victims in truck and car accidents throughout Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey and we can help you. Visit www.munley.com.

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