Trucking companies hold their drivers to strict deadlines. As a result, truck drivers often overwork themselves to the point of exhaustion in fear they will lose their jobs over missing a deadline, increasing their chances of causing an accident.
Furthermore, the CDC reports that drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. Being awake for at least 18 hours is the same as driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .05%. Being awake for 24 hours is equal to a BAC of .10%, which is higher than the legal driving limit in Utah.
Fatigued driving could be hard to prove, and you will need the assistance of an experienced Utah truck accident attorney. At Feller & Wendt, our attorneys can investigate the accident to give you the best chance at receiving a fair settlement.
Truck Driver Regulations in Utah
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the number of hours a truck driver can legally work. Regulations state that drivers can travel up to 11 hours a day after resting for 10 consecutive hours. Drivers cannot work more than 14 hours a day and can drive no more than 11 hours in one day. They must also take a 30-minute break after eight cumulative hours of driving. The break may consist of sitting in the passenger seat, sleeping in the sleeper berth, or eating at a rest stop.
Additionally, truck drivers can only work for 60 hours on duty in seven days or 70 hours in eight days. Drivers can restart a 60 or 70-hour duty after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off. During those 34 hours, at least two nights of sleep must occur between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Unfortunately, trucking companies often push their drivers to drive more than the maximum hours. Companies and drivers who violate this rule might be liable for any accidents that result from tired drivers. Additionally, the FMCSA may impose hefty fines on both the company and the driver.
How to Prove Drowsy Driving in Utah
It may be challenging to prove that driver fatigue was the cause of the accident, but it is crucial to obtaining financial compensation. A skilled truck accident attorney will know what evidence to look for to prove the other driver was tired, including:
- Time of day: The time the accident occurred may be a significant sign that fatigue played a part in the accident. Drivers who work between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. are more likely to have been driving through the night, possibly without breaks.
- Police reports: Police officers receive training to recognize when someone is sleep-deprived. Reports documenting bloodshot eyes, apparent exhaustion, or a statement from the driver admitting they were tired can aid your case. An accident attorney may also call the officers to testify in court, if necessary.
- Lack of accident avoidance: Typically, drivers will try to regain control of their vehicle when they are about to be in an accident. If a truck driver fell asleep, they may not have even noticed the danger. A detailed analysis of the accident may show whether a driver was too exhausted to stop or avoid a crash.
- Logbooks: Since 2000, trucks have come with Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) to monitor how long drivers work. In models before 2000, drivers must keep a detailed log of their hours. If logged or billed hours go beyond the FMCSA regulations, your attorney might be able to prove fatigued driving.
- Company Evidence: Companies should keep evidence of the delivery and transportation routes and goals for delivery times. Some companies provide their drivers with bonuses for early deliveries. Other companies will punish drivers if they don’t complete their routes in a certain time frame. All of these types of evidence can push drivers to operate their trucks for unsafe periods of time. An accident attorney may also subpoena a driver’s GPS or toll receipts, which may give a timeline on how long they have been driving.
Furthermore, an accident attorney can send letters to truck drivers and trucking companies telling them that they must preserve all the evidence, or they will suffer severe penalties.
Consult with the Truck Accident Attorneys at Feller & Wendt
If you or someone you know was in a truck accident and believe that a drowsy driver caused the accident, contact the truck accident attorneys at Feller & Wendt. Our injury lawyers have the knowledge, skill, and experience needed to investigate the accident. We will do everything possible to hold the negligent parties accountable for their actions. Call (801) 499-5060 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation today.