Currently, the Federal Regulations for interstate trucking place limits on the hours that interstate truckers may drive. Most truckers follow the regulations but some do not. Recent polls of long distance truck drivers revealed that up to 16% of them had fallen asleep while driving at least once in the previous month. Up to 48% operated a truck while sleepy in the prior week.. Some trucking firms repeatedly violate the rules and offer financial incentives to truck drivers to break the trucking safety rules. In fact most long distance 18 wheel truck drivers are paid by the mile not by the hour and thus have an incentive to drive longer distances even if that means driving longer or faster than the safety regulations allow. Paper logs are used to track the hours and miles that are driven by truckers on the highway. Unfortunately these paper logs can be forged, doctored and altered with ease. I have personally worked a truck accident case involving a large 18 wheeler and the written logs were so bad it was a joke. Apparently that driver could drive at the speed limit from Tennessee to Orlando, Florida in 12 hours with 8 hours of sleep included in that time. The driver also refused to take the mandatory post crash drug and alcohol test after being involved in a trucking versus auto accident.
There are alternatives. One such device is an electronic log mounted on the truck. These logs automatically record when, where and how much the truck has been driven. Although the Federal Trucking Regulations in the United States do not require electronic logs, the individual companies that hire the truckers can voluntarily place the logs in trucks they hire. If a company knowingly hires drivers that fudge the log books then action should be taken to hold them accountable for injuries and deaths to innocent motorists from car accidents caused by interstate trucks. The simple solution of electronic logs is one that a jury should evaluate when deciding whether trucking companies are deliberately choosing to ignore safety and profit by looking the other way while truck drivers violate the safety regulations designed to stop truck accidents.
This is no minor problem.
In a December 2002 report, consultants to the motor carrier safety administration estimated trucker fatigue plays a role in 8.15% of all fatal crashes involving large trucks. That would translate to more than 400 highway deaths a year
In surveys truckers have admitted to sleeping less than 5 hours per day on average. No wonder there are so many deaths and injuries from trucking accidents. In Europe black boxes to track the hours driven by truckers are mandatory in new trucks. It is time for the United States to adopt this safety measure.
For more information on this subject matter, please refer to the section on Tractor-trailer accidents.