As typical 18-wheeler weighs approximately 80,000 pounds, it is no wonder that the majority of car accidents involving tractor trailers are considered “major” or “catastrophic”. The average passenger vehicle is not intended to protect its passengers from the substantial force that is generated in a collision with a large truck of this kind.
According to new statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the number one cause of tractor trailer accidents in the United States is fatigue. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recognizes that chronic fatigue is a major concern as it can affect a driver’s ability to navigate such a large vehicle.
Consequently, in an effort to try to decrease the number of serious tractor trailer accidents, the FMCSA has decreased the number of allowable work hours from 82 to 70 hours per week for drivers operating certain kinds of large multi-wheel vehicles known as Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) which is defined generally as a vehicle that weighs 10,000 pounds or more. Additionally, the regulations mandate breaks by drivers for 30 minutes or more under certain circumstances. By forcing these drivers to work less and rest more, the FMCSA is attempting to address issues that cause dangerous collisions, such as driving drowsy or driver error due to fatigue. Drivers that do not obey these regulations are subject to penalties under the law. This hourly reduction or threat of litigation for accidents that arise because the regulations are not followed could drastically reduce the number of accidents each year related to driver fatigue.
A summary of the new Regulations can be read here.
If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident involving a tractor trailer, or if you know someone who has, it is imperative that you consult an attorney who has experience handling complex trucking cases and who is familiar with the FMCSA regulations.