Driver Fatigue-Related Road Accidents in Palm Beach
Most of us are fully aware that driving a vehicle requires our complete attention in order for it to remain safe and prevent accidents. Still, it’s unfortunate that many people in Palm Beach ignore this fact and decide to drive when they obviously haven’t had enough sleep in order to remain alert. Needless to say, this is a recipe for disaster. The American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety issued a report in 2018 based on an extensive study. In the report, it was concluded that 1 out of 10 motorists accidents were the result of driver fatigue. In addition, many of these accidents had devastating consequences.What are the statistics when it comes to drowsy driving?
When we look at drowsy driving in Palm Beach, we see two primary types of accidents. The first is an accident that is the result of a lack of adequate sleep. The second is a case in which a driver is attempting to operate a vehicle during a time that they would normally be sleeping. This situations account for the fact that drowsy driving-related accidents tend to occur during nighttime hours.
Another factor that became clear was that younger people (in particular males, less than 26 years old) tend to be those who are at the greatest risk of having a road accident due to driver fatigue. Another major factor has to do with those who work irregular hours with shifts that can randomly switch from day to night scheduling. These individuals are also at a higher risk of driver fatigue-related accidents.What is the relationship between drowsy driving and drunk driving?
Most people are not aware of the fact that drowsy driving carries with it the same hazards as drunk driving, which are clearly covered under the law (Statutes 316.193). As a matter of fact, the two actually equate to one another! In 2012, the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine released the results of a study that concluded drowsy driving was indeed as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. The reason for this has to do with the fact that in both situations, the driver’s senses and motor reflexes have become impaired.
When this happens, a fatigued driver may fail to react to a traffic hazard and still have enough time to respond properly. This is also true of driving while intoxicated. It’s a fact that a Palm Beach may nod off for just a few seconds due to fatigue. During those few seconds, their vehicle will have the ability to cross over to the oncoming lane or veer off the road. Unfortunately, one of the greatest dangers of drowsy driving, as opposed to drunk driving, is the fact that there is no blood test or breathalyzer that can indicate drowsiness.What are the federal regulations that pertain to truck driver fatigue?
When you look at the statistics, you can see that the drivers of tractor trailer trucks are more susceptible to drowsy driving than the average motorist. This is the case since truck drivers can be placed under a great deal of pressure when it comes to meeting deadlines. This can prompt a driver to continue driving well past the point where they are too fatigued to drive safely. There are also situations in which trucking companies and their managers will encourage drivers to work past the point of fatigue by offering incentives or other motivators.
In response to this situation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has created regulations that are designed to limit the number of hours that a truck driver is legally allowed to work. This is in conjunction with other safety regulations that are designed to keep truck drivers and other motorists safe from the consequences of drowsy driving. The work hour limits, (as stipulated by FMCSA regulation §395.1) have been set at:
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established regulations that deal with truck driver work hour limitations and other truck driver safety factors. These work hour limitations are:For Drivers Who Are Carrying Property or Merchandise
- An 11-Hour Driving Limit - stipulates that a driver may drive a maximum of 11 hours (after 10 consecutive hours off-duty).
- A 14-Hour Limit - stipulates that a driver may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after they have come on duty, following 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time. In other words, off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
- Mandatory Rest Breaks - stipulate that a driver may drive only if 8 hours (or less) have passed or slept in a sleeper berth for at least 30 minutes. Either of the short-haul exceptions in 395.1(e). [49 CFR 397.5] mandatory “in attendance” time may be included in break if no other duties are performed.
- A 60/70 Hour Time Limit – stipulates that a driver may not drive after 60/70 hours on-duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 (or more) consecutive hours of off-duty time. For Drivers Who are Carrying Passengers
- A 10-Hour Driving Maximum - stipulates that a driver may drive a maximum of 10 hours after 8 consecutive hours of off-duty time.
- A 15-Hour Limit - stipulates that a driver may not drive after having been on-duty for 15 hours, following 8 consecutive hours off-duty. Off-duty time is not to be included in the 15-hour time period.
- A 60/70-Hour Limit - stipulates that a driver may not drive after 60/70 hours on-duty in 7/8 consecutive days.
- Sleeper Berth Provision - Drivers who are using a sleeper berth must take at least 8 hours of their time in the sleeper berth, but may split the sleeper berth time into 2 separate periods, provided neither period is less than 2 hours long.
As you can see, federal law has addressed the dangers that are associated with drowsy driving, especially instances that involve drivers who are operating trucks. However, even though this happens to be the case, there still may be occasions which tractor-trailer drivers are compelled to operate their vehicles outside the federally mandated limitations. Much of this has to do with drivers who are facing unreasonable deadlines that are associated with their delivery obligations. As mentioned previously, a trucking company may opt to offer illegal incentives for drivers who are willing to ignore federal guidelines that pertain to drowsy driving. There are also situations that involve the falsification of driver logs, which also encourage drivers to earn more money, even though they may be seriously (and dangerously) fatigued.
As a matter of fact, this situation has become so prevalent that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has mandated that tractor-trailers have electronic devices designed for logging driving hours, which are to be installed by commercial trucking companies. This is an effort to force trucking companies to adhere to federal driving regulations.
Palm Beach truck drivers, of course, are obligated to adhere to federal driving time standards, which have been established to make roads safer for all drivers. But it also a priority to be able to determine if a driver, who is involved in an accident, was driving while fatigued. Unless there is an obvious violation of federal law, current methods of determination are somewhat limited.What can you do if you are involved in a Palm Beach fatigued driver accident?
An individual who is involved in a Palm Beach fatigued driver accident may have the right to file a lawsuit, in order to compensate for damages, against the driver who is responsible for their accident. Since this can be a standard concern for trucking companies, the companies and their drivers are generally required to carry a much higher amount of liability insurance than the average driver. Part of the reason for this has to do with the fact that a fully-loaded commercial truck is a very heavy vehicle and, as such, is capable of severe damage, even in minor accidents.
The following actions are suggested if you are involved in a driving accident that may have been caused by a fatigued driver:
- Attempt to remain calm after the accident has taken place. Immediately check for injuries that have been sustained by both you and your passengers. If serious injuries are present, try not to move those who have been seriously injured, unless you need to get them out of the roadway. Then call 911 and alert the police.
- Collect the necessary information from the other driver and give them your basic information, as well. Make sure that you don’t engage in any arguments with the other driver and refrain from becoming emotional. The information that is shared should consist of; name, address, contact information, driver’s license number, vehicle plate number and insurance information. If the vehicle is a commercial truck, then record the name of the trucking company and any cargo information that is visible.
- Make sure that you always cooperate with the investigating officer and answer their questions and follow their directions. Just make sure not to volunteer any information and never indicate that you (or the other party) may be responsible for the accident.
- Document the accident to the best of your ability and obtain the contact information of any witnesses. If you can, take extensive photos of the accident scene from different angles. These photos should include vehicle damage and visible injuries.
- Make sure that you immediately seek medical evaluation and care. Even if you feel fine, this is an important procedure. In many cases, injuries from a vehicle accident may be hidden and won’t show any indications until a day or so later. An untreated injury may eventually evolve into a life-threatening situation.
- Contact you insurance company. But don’t volunteer any information that they don’t ask you directly. Don’t minimize any injuries and don’t place any blame for the accident.
- You will want to take extra care when you’re dealing with at fault driver’s insurance company. Their goal, as a business, may be to pay out as little as possible. In many cases, this won’t be enough to cover all the expenses that are associated with your accident. In addition, don’t speak to the other party’s insurance company and never accept any payments or sign anything that they offer you! It is advised that you speak to your own lawyer, first.
- Get in touch with an experienced driver fatigue accident attorney who serves Palm Beach. The first appointment will cost you nothing, so there’s nothing to lose. You may also receive some valuable information regarding your options, going forward.
- Document everything that pertains to your accident and keep it all in one file for easy access. This includes medical receipts and a journal that documents anything pertaining to your recovery from any accident-related injuries.
Deaths and injuries from a Palm Beach fatigued driver accident can be the result of negligent behavior, which may occur in Palm Beach at any given time. Therefore, if you are involved in a Palm Beach motor vehicle accident, it is advised that you seek medical care and the advice of a dedicated personal injury attorney.
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries as the result of a car accident involving a fatigued driver, discuss your case with a Drowsy Driver Accident Personal Injury Attorney Serving Palm Beach Today! Turn to Frankl & Kominsky for comprehensive legal guidance. Call 561-800-8000 or use our Contact Form to set up a free consultation.