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Driver fatigue and truck accidents go hand-in-hand

Since the founding of the nation, there is always been a tension between allowing commercial interest to prosper while also ensuring public safety. The modern trucking industry is currently grappling with those same problems. It is estimated that crashes involving semi-trucks kill over 5,000 people and result in nearly 150,000 injuries annually. Despite those grim numbers, our economy depends on commercial tractor-trailers to haul materials to manufacturers and producers and then get those goods to market.

In order to balance the needs of commercial trucking against the requirements of public safety, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration began limiting work hours for truck drivers. The concept was born from the statistical evidence that revealed that truck drivers who were fatigued were much more likely to become involved in accidents.

In fact, the FMCSA estimates that each year, over 750 people die and at least 20,000 more suffer injuries that are directly related to exhausted truck drivers. To counter this trend, the FMCSA has proposed changes to current driver regulations to include a rotating schedule based on a 24-hour period of work and rest, rather than the current 18-hour cycle.

This proposed new system is sometimes referred to as the 24-hour or circadian clock system. It requires truck drivers to get at least 9 through 12 continuous hours of rest each day. It also provides a disincentive for others who might interrupt a truck driver's off-duty time from disturbing that cycle. Any interruption of a truck driver's off-duty time by a dispatcher or shipper would reset the clock on the driver's off-duty period.

New Jersey residents who have been injured in truck accidents need to understand that regardless of these changes driver fatigue is just one of many causes of commercial trucking accidents. Poor driver training, inadequate vehicle maintenance and overloaded vehicles also contribute to reducing traffic safety.

Your New Jersey tractor-trailer accident attorney can assist you in filing a lawsuit in response to a preventable accident. Depending on the circumstances of your case, it may be possible for you to recover compensation for your injuries and other associated expenses.

Source: Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, "Truck Driver Fatigue" Dec. 11, 2014

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