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Falsified Log Books May Cause Truck Accidents by Sleepy DriversNo one would argue whether being a truck driver is a very tough job. Truck drivers are expected to drive for hours and hours each day and must meet strict delivery deadlines. This can often cause drivers to skip out on necessary sleep in order to meet these expectations. Sleep deprivation can significantly decrease a truck driver’s ability to safely maneuver through traffic. Many fatal truck accidents have been caused by truck drivers who fell asleep at the wheel or were too fatigued to react in time to prevent an accident. If you have been injured in a traffic accident caused by a fatigued truck driver, you may be eligible for compensation.

Laws Dictating Truck Drivers’ Sleep Schedules

In order to prevent accidents caused by sleepy truck drivers, a number of laws have been enacted that require drivers to take rest breaks. For example, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck drivers may drive for a maximum of 11 hours after being off duty for 10 consecutive hours. If they were off duty for only eight consecutive hours, then they are permitted to drive for a maximum of 10 hours. Truck drivers must keep a logbook that identifies the hours that they have been on the road and when they have stopped to rest. Unfortunately, some truck drivers falsify these records in order to get their driving assignments completed sooner. An experienced lawyer can analyze the truck driver’s logbook, receipts, delivery logs, and other information to find inconsistencies that show that the driver was lying.

Who Is At Fault for an Accident Caused by a Sleepy Truck Driver?

Determining fault in a truck accident is not always straightforward. Legal liability for a truck accident may fall to the truck driver himself or herself or the trucking company. If the accident was caused by a defective truck part or inadequate truck maintenance, the company responsible for maintaining the truck or the truck part manufacturer may be to blame. In many cases, there may be more than one problem that contributed to the accident. For example, the truck driver himself or herself may have been sleepy and did not react fast enough, but the accident was also worsened because the truck’s braking mechanism was flawed in some way.

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Drug and Alcohol Use Contribute to Many Serious Truck AccidentsThere is no doubt that the trucking industry is a vital part of our American way of life. Just under 70 percent of all goods in the U.S are delivered via semi-trucks. However, these trucks also present a grave danger when they are not operated properly. A fully-loaded semi-truck, tractor-trailer, or eighteen-wheeler can weigh up to a staggering 80,000 lbs. When a large truck is involved in a motor vehicle accident, the damage can be catastrophic. One contributor to major truck accidents is truck driver drug and alcohol use. If you or a loved one were involved in a major truck accident and the truck driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may be eligible for compensation.

Study Shows Alcohol and Drug Use is High Among Truck Drivers

A study published in “Occupational and Environmental Medicine” analyzed the level of drug and alcohol use among truck drivers across the globe. Half of the truck drivers who participated in the study admitted to using alcohol while on the road, and 30 percent admitted to using amphetamines to stay awake on long hauls. The study also analyzed data gathered from drug and alcohol tests. The U.S. had the highest frequency of positive alcohol tests among all of the truck drivers tested. Approximately 12.5 percent of U.S. truck drivers who were tested for alcohol tested positive.

When Drug and Alcohol Use Causes an Accident

Drugs and alcohol have a significant impact on a truck driver’s ability to drive safely. Alcohol use decreases coordination, reaction time, and concentration – the very skills needed to maneuver through traffic. If you have been injured or a loved one was killed in an accident caused by an intoxicated driver, you may have a valid personal injury or wrongful death claim. Through a personal injury claim, you may be able to hold the negligent party accountable for the damage he or she has done. Furthermore, you may be able to receive compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages. You could be reimbursed for your medical bills, ongoing costs for physical therapy and rehabilitative medicine, lost wages due to time off of work, pain and suffering, and more.

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Safety Tips to Consider When Driving Near TrucksWhether an individual is on the expressway or a city street, it is very probable that he or she will encounter a semi-truck. Although a motorist should always drive in a state of readiness, precaution levels should be further increased when a truck is nearby. Due to their size and weight, a semi-truck accident can lead to catastrophic injuries and fatalities. It is important for a motorist to understand the limitations that a larger vehicle is subjected to. Before getting behind the wheel, a motorist should consider these helpful suggestions:

  1. Avoid Blind Spots: The height and length of a semi-truck can create blind spots for the trucker from every angle. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), if an opposing motorist cannot see the truck driver in the vehicle side mirror, it should be assumed that the truck driver cannot see the vehicle. When driving near a truck, an individual should try their best to remain visible and never linger in a blind spot when trying to pass a truck.    
  2. Allow for Extra Room: Visibility is not the only concern an opposing motorist should think about when driving next to a truck. Considering that it takes much longer for a larger vehicle to stop, spacing should be planned. Drivers should also acknowledge the time and space needed for a truck to switch lanes. Furthermore, individuals should avoid tailgating a semi-truck. In the event of a rear-end collision, a car could slide or get pushed underneath a truck. 
  3. Expect Wide Turns: Often displayed on the back of a semi-truck is a warning that says, “this vehicle makes wide turns”. Opposing vehicles should never try to squeeze or get between a turning truck and the curb. In addition, intersection lines should never be crossed since they help trucks and other large vehicles safely navigate a turn. In many situations, a truck will have to conduct a turn from the middle lane in order to properly fit.
  4. Be Understanding: Semi-trucks are becoming more prevalent in our cites and on our expressways. It is important for fellow motorists to be patient with the setbacks that these vehicles have. Trucks take longer to accelerate and typically use speed limiters to prevent reckless behaviors. If a driver is looking at a long commute, he or she should plan to leave early. Driving aggressive and honking at trucks can lead to accidents occurring.   

Contact a Cook County Personal Injury Attorney

A traffic accident involving a semi-truck can be mentally and physically draining. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a truck driver’s negligence, financial compensation may be owed. With over $2.5 billion in verdicts and settlements in the last five years, the dedicated Orland Park, IL, truck accident lawyers at Schwartz Injury Law can help you seek restitution. To schedule a free consultation, contact our office at 708-226-9000.

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Lane Merging Near Trucks Can Result in an AccidentIllinois is cracking down on the number of people driving in the left lane on highways. It is the law that the left lane should be used for passing only and not for idle driving. However, there are times when cars need to be in the left lane – such as a left exit ramp – and so do trucks.

The best way to avoid a truck accident while merging lanes on the highway is to make sure you are not in the truck driver’s blind spots. Most truck drivers have a sign on the back of their vehicle reading “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.” Motorists should keep this in mind every time they drive near trucks to avoid going undetected while passing.

Truck drivers need to also be aware of where their left-sided exit ramp is on the highway and be prepared for smaller vehicles passing on the left before they move over. If the driver does not check their mirrors and turn on their indicator light before moving, they could be putting another driver’s life at risk.

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Orland Park truck accident lawyerMany jobs across the country require their workers to perform on tight deadlines. Truck drivers, especially, have their own deadlines for delivering goods to a destination. This is why sometimes drivers travel for too long and can become drowsy while still behind the wheel. Drowsy driving may be considered a negligent act by the truck operator because it can lead to serious accidents that often involve other people on the road.

The Reality of Drowsy Driving

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2013, drowsy driving accounted for about 72,000 crashes, 40,000 injuries, and 800 deaths. Truck drivers were included in the list of most likely to fall asleep at the wheel due to long shifts.

Truck drivers are allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours in one day so long as they had at least 10 hours of non-driving time before the shift began, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. If drivers operate their vehicle for longer periods of time or just feel tired, but continue to drive, their senses and reaction time become impaired. Thus, they will be unable to react quick enough if they start to veer off the road or come into close contact with other drivers.

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