Federal regulations may not address biggest truck crash risk factors

FMCSA driver regulations may not be effective in preventing many truck accidents because they do not address common risk factors for truck accidents.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the federal agency responsible for drafting and enforcing safety regulations governing commercial vehicles. As part of its mission, the FMCSA drafted Hours of Service regulations that limit the amount of time that a truck driver can work in a given period of time. HOS regulations are intended to reduce the number of truck accidents by reducing driver fatigue, but research released in April 2014 shows that HOS regulations may not adequately address many crash risk factors.

Driver fatigue

An April 2014 review of several studies related to driver fatigue and truck accidents revealed that there is not the direct link between driver fatigue and multi-vehicle truck accidents that many suspected. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study conducted by the FMCSA showed that 4 percent of all truck accidents were the result of drivers falling asleep at the wheel. However, drowsiness was the cause of 13 percent of single-vehicle accidents and only 0.4 percent of multi-vehicle accidents.

Not all drivers are equally susceptible to drowsiness while driving. The Department of Transportation's Driver Fatigue Alertness Study showed that 14 percent of drivers accounted for 54 percent of all the reported drowsy periods in the study. The time that drivers have spent on the job do not seem to affect the likelihood of a truck accident. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study showed that 70 percent of truck accidents happen within the first five hours a driver is on the job, and 85 percent of accidents happen within the first seven hours of driving. The current HOS regulations do not address the differences in individuals' circadian rhythms. A driver may be very drowsy if he or she has to drive at a time when he or she might not normally be awake, and the driver may then be involved in an auto accident without having violated HOS regulations.

Indicators of crash risk

Research conducted by consulting firm Safety for the Long Haul Inc. showed that there are several other indicators that show that a driver is at risk for an accident that are not covered by HOS regulations. Researchers found that drivers who are "Type A," or more aggressive, competitive and critical, are more likely to be involved in truck accidents. Those who did not wear seat belts and had engaged in criminal behavior that did not pertain to operating a motor vehicle were also more likely to be involved in truck accidents.

Recovering for an auto accident

Because of the huge size difference between trucks and passenger vehicles, people traveling in passenger vehicles that are struck by large trucks often suffer serious injuries. Those who are injured in truck accidents often have huge expenses to manage while trying to recover from their injuries. Truck accident victims should not have to pay for others' carelessness. It is critical that truck accident victims have the assistance of an attorney with experience handling the unique issues that arise in truck accident cases to help them recover fully for their losses. If you have been injured in a truck accident, speak with a skilled truck accident lawyer who can ensure that you receive just and proper compensation.

Keywords: truck accident; motor vehicle accident; auto accident