Driver fatigue among truck drivers is a significant threat to motorists, often causing catastrophic injuries and deaths. For example, comedian Tracy Morgan’s car accident was caused by a truck driver who was speeding and had not slept in 24 hours. Tracy Morgan suffered a traumatic brain injury and his passenger James McNair died from his injuries. We can use this example to illustrate one of the most common causes of truck accidents and how survivors are affected.
Let’s first break down the facts. Truck accidents are responsible for 4,000 deaths in the United States every year. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has claimed many of these fatal truck accidents are caused by driver fatigue. Research from the DOT also claims that many truck drivers cannot assess their own levels of fatigue, and that drowsiness can sneak up unexpectedly.
To put an end to truck accidents caused by driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued updates to hours-of-service rules in 2011. The rules limited how many hours a week truck drivers could work and instituted mandatory resting periods. However, some of these new regulations have been rolled back by federal lawmakers. Even when updated hours-of-service rules were implemented, some drivers chose to ignore the new restrictions. These unfortunate facts mean that driver fatigue is still a very real threat to motorists.
The Consequences of Driver Fatigue and Truck Accidents
As we saw with Tracy Morgan, not all victims of fatigued truck drivers lose their lives. Survivors can face a long period of rehabilitation, lost income, medical expenses and pain and suffering. Tracy Morgan has made significant progress in his recovery, but not everyone is quite so lucky. In fact, Tracy Morgan’s own doctor claimed the comedian’s recovery is “a miracle.”
For those who lose their lives to truck accidents, families are torn apart and lives are upended. Some families may not only lose loved ones, but a main source of income.
Economic costs, pain and suffering and other consequences are all considered when survivors and family members file lawsuits to hold commercial carriers accountable for dangerous driving.