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Driver Fatigue is a Major Factor in Over 4,000 Deaths a Year

Last updated Thursday, June 29th, 2023

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck driver fatigue is a leading cause of thousands of deaths a year on our highways. In 2014, the latest year where statistics are available, there were 3,978 large trucks and buses involved in fatal crashes. Many more people have been left permanently disabled by accidents with big commercial trucks. While these numbers are hard to assimilate, the numbers stand for people who are killed or left permanently disabled after surviving a horrific accident.

You don’t have to be driving in your car to be hurt by truck driver fatigue. In 2011, a 5-year-old boy was killed in his living room when a logging truck weighing 52 tons overturned and dumped its cargo on his family home in Jackman, Maine. Other family members were injured and their house was destroyed after the logs smashed the second story of the house down into the ground floor. The trucker had fallen asleep at the wheel. This is only one case out of thousands. Each of the accident statistic numbers represents a separate tragedy.

Like Many of Our Social Problems, Truck Driver Fatigue Is All About the Money

Truckers, primarily independent truckers who compete to offer companies the fastest delivery for the lowest rate, are paid per mile. Being paid per mile is called piecework pay and was the way coal miners, textile workers, and other low-paid workers were exploited prior to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Piecework employees could be worked 24 hours a day without any benefits or overtime. When truckers objected to the income cap when a minimum wage law was imposed, they were exempted by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt from the act and allowed to continue being paid per mile.

Because of the hours-of-service rules, which now limit how many hours a trucker can work a week or without resting, truckers’ incomes have been capped. Paying truckers by the mile benefits companies more than truckers because truckers are required to rest, load the truck and check the loads and perform other safety-related requirements that take time off from driving. They aren’t being paid for their time performing these tasks. Plus, they have to compete with truckers who are willing to deliver the same service at a lower rate.

Independent truckers may be tempted to work longer hours to earn more money because of current laws regarding truck driver hours that work against them receiving a fair wage for all the time they spend performing a job. They may be tempted to drive faster than it is safe to drive. There are other safety regulations, which could add up to lower pay for piecework truckers.

Accidents Caused by Truck Driver Fatigue Could Be Compared to a Yearly Hurricane Katrina

According to The New York Times, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the annual cost to our economy of truck and bus accidents is around $99 billion dollars. So, with a $99 billion cost per year to our economy and around 4,000 deaths, we are allowing an annual catastrophe comparable to what has been called the greatest single disaster in our history–Hurricane Katrina. The cost of Hurricane Katrina was estimated at between $96 billion and $125 billion dollars. The Katrina death toll final estimate was 1,836.

Many trucking accidents are caused by driver fatigue. Trucking accidents cost almost as much as Katrina every single year and kill twice as many people. In other words, we’re allowing the trucking industry to create a Katrina a year, only with twice as many deaths! Most CDL truckers and other commercial drivers are very conscientious about abiding by FMCSA guidelines and rules related to safety. We would have many more horrific accidents if a majority of truckers were not conscientious about keeping others safe.

Call Isaacs & Isaacs If You or Your Loved One Has Been in a Trucking Accident

If you or somebody you love has been hurt or killed in an accident with a big rig truck, Isaacs & Isaacs will work hard to get you the fair compensation you deserve and will need to rebuild your life. Do not delay seeking legal help. Call us anytime at 800-333-9999, or fill out the form to speak to a compassionate and experienced Isaacs & Isaacs truck accident attorney ASAP.

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