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Columbia Truck Accident Lawyers

Our legal team at Hughes & Coleman loves being part of the community in Columbia, TN. Columbia is home to many historical buildings, sites, and tourist attractions. Whether you want to spend the day kayaking, shopping, or exploring, there’s something here for everyone. However, it is the people that make up a community—that’s why we’re dedicated to helping you.

I-85 and Route 31 are frequently used by truck drivers traveling between Columbia and Nashville or other cities. Truck drivers provide a valuable service to the community; we rely on them to import food and other goods into our city. While we all value the service these large vehicles provide, a truck accident is anything but appreciated.

If you’ve ever been in an accident involving a large truck or semi, you know how dangerous or even deadly such an accident can be. If you or someone you love has been involved in a truck accident, contact the lawyers at Hughes & Coleman today. We will work hard to make sure you get the justice and financial compensation you deserve.

Driver Fatigue and Truck Accidents

Driving while drowsy is dangerous regardless of the type of vehicle you’re driving. Drowsy driving leads to delayed reaction times, driver error, and falling asleep at the wheel.

This danger is amplified when the drowsy driver is behind the wheel of a 40-ton vehicle. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that every 1 out of 8 truck accidents were caused by driver fatigue. Accidents involving these massive vehicles often leave victims with life-altering injuries.

Common Signs and Causes of Truck Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers usually get paid by the mile; the faster they make their route, the more they get paid. Unfortunately, this frequently leads to truck drivers pushing themselves to keep going even when they are feeling drowsy. When a driver is yawning and having trouble keeping his or her eyes open, it’s time to pull off the road and take a break.

Did you know? The CDC reports that approximately 1 in 25 adult drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel in the previous 30 days.

Besides the monetary benefits of pushing past the point of exhaustion, truck drivers might try to make up for lost time after being stuck in traffic or driving in inclement weather. They also might try to beat rush hour traffic or simply hurry to make it home to see family and friends.

No matter what the truck driver’s reason is for driving drowsy, his or her actions cannot be excused. Driving while fatigued is dangerous, which is why there are regulations in place that control how often a truck driver needs to rest while on the job.

Federal Regulations Aimed at Reducing Truck Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers have a tremendous responsibility and safety should be their main concern. In an effort to protect truck drivers and all those who share the road with them, the FMCSA has established hours-of-service regulations. These regulations stipulate when and for how long a driver can be behind the wheel. The goal is to keep drivers alert and awake and thereby prevent drowsy driving.

The following are some of the regulations outlined by the FMCSA:

  • Truck drivers are only allowed to work a maximum 70 hours a week
  • A driver must take a minimum 34-hour break after a 70-hour work week
  • A 30-minute break is required during an 8-hour shift
  • 11 hours maximum of consecutive driving
  • 14 hours maximum on-duty (loading, paperwork, maintenance)
  • 10 consecutive hours minimum of rest after 14 hours on-duty

Sadly, at times truck drivers and the companies that employ them have resisted these laws. Truck drivers make claims that after years on the job, their bodies are trained to get by on just a few hours of sleep, or else they complain that there’s no way they can make a living following these hours-of-service regulations.

The truck accident lawyers at Hughes & Coleman know how to gather evidence in cases involving driver fatigue. These cases can be difficult to prove since there’s no way to quantify how tired a driver was at the time of the accident, but it will help your case if we can prove that the driver was operating beyond the allowed hours of service.

Truck drivers are legally required to keep detailed logbooks. The truck accident lawyers at Hughes & Coleman check to make sure that these books were accurately kept and that they weren’t falsified. Drivers now commonly use electronic logbooks instead of paper and pen, and our attorney team will obtain the rights to examine these to ensure no one tampered with them.

Tips to Avoid Driver Fatigue

It’s vital for truck drivers to educate themselves about what helps to mitigate drowsy driving and what makes it worse. The following tips may help truck drivers to stay alert and safe behind the wheel.

Get enough sleep before driving. The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Your body is naturally drowsy between the hours of 12-6 AM and 2-4 PM. If possible, try to plan your rest periods during these hours.

Take a nap. Pull over and take a nap when you start feeling drowsy. A sufficient nap should last for a minimum of 10 minutes, but an ideal nap is 45 minutes. Coffee is not a substitute for sleep; studies show that a short nap can replenish energy levels more effectively than caffeine.

Eat healthy. It can be difficult to maintain a balanced diet when you’re eating out often, but taking time to eat healthy meals during the day will keep your body energized. If you’re hungry before bedtime, don’t eat a large meal. Eat a light snack instead; it will help you sleep better.

Avoid medications that make you sleepy. Medications typically include a warning label if they will make a driver sleepy and state that you shouldn’t operate heavy machinery while taking them. There are a number of over-the-counter drugs that can cause drowsiness as well, including cold medicines, allergy pills, and motion-sickness medications. Avoid taking anything that could induce drowsiness.

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Contact the Hughes & Coleman Legal Team Today

If you or someone you love has been involved in a truck accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Our legal team is experienced in litigating all types of truck accident cases and obtaining successful outcomes. During your initial consultation, we will sit down with you and patiently listen as you tell us about the accident so we may conduct an in-depth evaluation of your case.

We understand that a truck accident is a traumatic experience that can take weeks, months, or even years to heal from. Some truck accident victims and their families are affected much longer, having sustained life-altering injuries or having lost a loved one.

No matter your situation, we are dedicated to helping victims of truck accidents and their families understand their legal rights and pursue justice. Contact us today to set up a free case evaluation or fill out the online form.

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