Over the past quarter century exhausted driving has been and continues to be the number one safety concern in the commercial motor vehicle transportation industry. The problem continues to escalate as the transportation industry puts profits over safety. Crashes involving commercial vehicles where there is evidence of fatigued or tired/inattentive drivers is not an accident but very predictable based upon history and the trucking industries number one concern or priority, profits. A typical semi-tractor and trailer can weigh in excess of 80,000 pounds barreling down the road at 60 to 70 mph with a tired driver is absolutely preventable. The ultimate catastrophic safety problem and crash with fatigue driving results in great risk and huge damages. Drivers of automobiles, motorcyclists and other users of the roadways do not face a chance in these situations.
The federal motor carrier safety regulation part 392 and part 395 pertain to fatigue driving and hours of service which are repeatedly and routinely and nationally violated by over the road drivers.
Section 392.1 Scope of the Rules in this Part: “every motor carrier, its officers, agents, representatives, and employees responsible for the management, maintenance, operation, or driving of commercial motor vehicles or the hiring, supervising, training, assigning, or dispatching of drivers, shall be instructed in and comply with the rules in this part.
Section 392.3 Ill or Fatigued Operator: “No driver shall operate a commercial motor vehicle, and a motor carrier should not require or permit a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle, while the drivers ability or alertness is so impaired or likely to become impaired through fatigue, illness or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle. However, in case of grave emergency where the hazard to occupants of the commercial motor vehicle or other uses of the highway be increased by compliance with this section, the driver may continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle to the nearest place for which the hazard is removed.
Despite these regulations being crystal clear the commercial trucking industry continues to blatantly ignore these mandates. Trucking companies can be held liable for not complying with this regulation. Indeed, being able to prove the existence of the fatigued driver in a commercial motor vehicle car crash is quite difficult. Detailed investigation with an experienced expert including analysis of the drivers log book, criminal background, driving convictions, drivers D.Q. file history, bill of lading, ECMs as well as all DOT compliance reviews conducted by the carrier are extremely important. In Arizona a commercial carrier can be vicariously liable for the actions in negligent, driving, hiring, supervision, and attention of a fatigued driver.
While the damages can be astronomical, the evidence that can be unearthed through thorough investigation may lead to punitive or punishing damages which could significantly exceed compensatory damages for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, disfigurement and disability.