Fatigue is a leading cause of trucking and big rig accidents in Florida and throughout the nation. Federal and state regulations have Hours of Service (HOS) rules in place to help prevent fatigue-related accidents. Florida’s intrastate HOS rules are as follows:
- A driver may drive 12 hours after 10 consecutive hours off-duty
- A driver may not drive after the 16th hour after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty
- A driver may not drive after 70/80 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days (34 consecutive hours off constitutes end of 7/8 day period)
Even with these rules in place, accidents still happen. For example, the truck driver who hit comedian Tracy Morgan’s tour bus in 2014 had been awake for more than 24 hours. Driver fatigue is different for everyone. Even if a driver has 10 hours off-duty set aside for sleep, what happens if the driver is unable to sleep? Or unwilling? What if the driver is sick and drowsy? HOS rules, unfortunately, cannot account for every situation and every person.
Fatigue monitoring technology
The new area of fatigue monitoring has the promise to make drastic increases to trucking safety. One of the more developed monitoring systems is a dashcam tech platform built to identify distraction, fatigue, and other driving risks. The system, called SmartDrive, has sensors that interpret both driver and vehicle movements to identify if the truck driver is at risk for an accident. If so, the system flags the driver and vehicle for immediate intervention. And, if there is a truck accident, fleet operators have access to video of everything that occurred before, during, and after the incident.
Fleet operators are even looking to NASA to help combat driving fatigue among tractor-trailer drivers. NASA’s psychomotor vigilance task tests (PVTs) can measure a driver’s fatigue level by asking the driver certain test questions. Combining a PVT with wearable technology like a watch that monitors body activity like sleep levels, head movements, heart and respiration rates, can get a much more accurate measurement of fatigue level.
As some drivers may tire more easily, or some drivers may tire less easily, individually monitoring a driver’s fatigue level could lead to more safety on the road. Perhaps the ultimate goal would be to eliminate HOS rules altogether, in a perfect world where we know every truck driver is 100% rested and attentive. As we all know, though, the world is not perfect, and unfortunately some of us may end up in accidents.
Truck accidents can cause catastrophic injuries, and the responsible party must be held accountable. If you were involved in an accident with a drowsy driver, you need experienced and tenacious representation on your side. The experienced attorneys at Yeboah Law Group are here to help. Contact our Fort Lauderdale attorneys at 1-800-TELL-SAM or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.