Truck driver fatigue is dangerous and prevalent.
Truck accidents may be caused by many things. These may include vehicle malfunction, driver error and even driver fatigue. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration established guidelines designed to curb truck driver fatigue and improve public safety. You can find more information about these guidelines here.
Any Florida resident who has ever been in a passenger car right next to a semi truck or other large commercial vehicle knows how vulnerable a person in a regular car or truck really may be. The incredible weight and size of tractor trailers put anyone in other vehicles or on motorcycles, bicycles or foot at a clear disadvantage in the event that an accident should occur.
How many people die in truck crashes in Florida?
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that the state has struggled to get and keep the number of deaths in truck crashes down. In both 2011 and 2012, 213 people died each year in these accidents statewide. The following year that went down to 197 and then in 2014 it declined again to 190. Unfortunately, the trend reversed in 2015 when 225 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks.
How serious is the problem around Alachua County?
Over the course of the five years spanning 2011 to 2015, Alachua County experienced more deaths in large truck accidents than any of its neighboring counties. In Alachua County, there were 29 fatalities in these accidents. The county with the next closest number of deaths was Marion where 24 people died. Putnam and Bradford Counties both lost 11 people each and another eight died in Levy County. In Clay and Columbia Counties, there were six fatalities each and in Union and Gilchrist Counties there were three deaths each.
What is being done to keep people safe?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has put into place a new Hours of Service rule. This is designed specifically to reduce fatigue among drivers and improve safety for everyone.
A driver is limited to 60 working hours in a seven-day work week or 70 hours in an eight-day workweek. A break lasting at least 34 hours is required in between each work week.
When on duty, breaks lasting at least 30 minutes are required every eight hours. No driver may work more than 14 hours in a day and only 11 of those are allowed to be behind the wheel.
What else can help?
Venture Beat explains that one company is looking to use self-driving technology to allow trucks to take control from human drivers in order to give truckers more breaks. How well the federal rule or technology can really improve safety is yet to be seen. In the meantime, Floridians who are involved in crashes with large commercial trucks should always reach out to an attorney for help. This will give them the chance to learn their options for seeking compensation which can be complex when working with transportation companies and their insurance companies.