Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules limit the hours commercial truck operators can drive. The regulations also apply to rest periods between shifts. The rules aren't in place to frustrate California truckers craving overtime or companies with pressing deadlines – truck driver fatigue can kill.
A study reported by FMCSA officials said 13 percent of drivers involved in commercial truck accidents were found to be fatigued. Tiredness isn't the only reason truck accidents happen. Driver distractions, like the use of cellphones and other electronic devices, are sometimes an attempt to break the boredom of long hours on the road.
A Marion County truck crash last fall killed a 26-year-old Lyons man. The victim and his Honda Integra were crushed beneath a tractor-trailer that failed to stop during an Interstate 5 traffic jam. Authorities recently arrested the truck driver and charged him with manslaughter.
Sheriff's deputies said the semi-truck driver drove over the entire length of the Acura and crashed into a truck in front of the Honda. The car was crushed so completely, emergency crews had no easy way to reach the victim, who died at the scene. The trucker was hospitalized and treated for non-serious injuries.
The Red Bluff truck driver was taken into custody in Tehama County to await extradition to Marion County. Authorities announced the arrest but did not elaborate on details supporting the charge of manslaughter.
FMCSA authorities have learned a great deal about drowsiness patterns and when commercial truck drivers are most vulnerable to fatigue. Unfortunately, information and regulations don't keep some truckers or trucking firms from pushing driving hours beyond prescribed limits. Accidents caused by trucker tiredness can result in criminal charges and civil actions.
Negligence occurs when a defendant dismisses the danger a risky behavior causes. Recklessness is knowingly engaging in or promoting an unsafe behavior that can harm others. Damages are awarded to plaintiffs for proof of either one.
Source: Statesman Journal, "Calif. man arrested on manslaughter charges for November I-5 crash" No author given, Feb. 13, 201