home personal injury truck accidents fatigued drivers

Santa Barbara Fatigued Truck Driving Accident Attorneys

The Dangers of Drowsy Truck Drivers in Santa Barbara

An estimated 6,000 fatal vehicle accidents occurred due to drowsy driving in a recent year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While no one should ever drive while fatigued, as it can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated, this is an inherent issue for truck drivers in California. Truck drivers often work long hours and, despite federal regulations around rest breaks, many push themselves to drive without rest in order to complete a delivery on time. These reckless habits put everyone on the road at risk and can cause devastating accidents.

If you or someone you love was injured by a fatigued truck driver, do not hesitate to reach out to NordstrandBlack PC. Our Santa Barbara fatigued truck driving accident attorneys understand just how dangerous these collisions can be and can advocate for full and proper compensation in a truck accident claim. To discuss your case in a free consultation, call our office at (866) 298-2041.

The Inherent Risk of Fatigued Driving

Whether a driver has been on the road for long hours without a break or started driving after a late night at work, there is no excuse for driving while fatigued. Lack of sleep can make drivers more prone to mistakes, reduce their reaction time, and cause them to make reckless decisions, such as unsafe lane changes and speeding. In many fatal crashes, drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel and lost complete control of their vehicles.

For truck drivers, chronic fatigue has sadly become the norm. Truck drivers are expected to deliver cargo on time and are typically paid by the speed at which they get a job done. These financial incentives often motivate them to drive long hours at night with very few rest breaks. Semi-trucks are extremely dangerous vehicles, and a truck driver needs to be fully aware at all times to safely drive one. If truckers lose control for even a second on PCH or any road around Santa Barbara, they could cause a catastrophic collision.

Federal Hours of Service

In order to stop the rampant number of fatigued truck driving accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented strict Hours of Service (HOS) regulations for commercial vehicle operators, including truck and bus drivers. Under these regulations, drivers are required to take a rest break after a certain number of hours on-duty. On-duty can include driving a truck, performing maintenance, securing cargo, or any other job a truck driver must complete. When they reach the maximum number of driving hours, they are required to stop driving and take a rest break, which can include sleeping.

While there are certain exceptions to the HOS, the four primary regulations include:

  • 11-Hour Driving Limit: A driver may only drive for 11 consecutive hours after a 10-hour rest break.
  • 14-Hour Limit: A driver cannot be on-duty for more than 14 hours after a 10-hour rest break.
  • 30-Minute Driving Break: If a driver has driven for 8 consecutive hours, he or she is required to take a 30-minute driving break.
  • 60/70-Hour Limit: If a driver has driven for a total of 60/70 hours in a 7/8-day period, he or she must rest for 34 hours.

Despite these regulations, many drivers try to skirt the rules or are pushed by a trucking company to ignore the HOS. In more serious situations, some drivers abuse prescription or illegal drugs to stay awake despite their fatigue, which can also contribute to causing serious wrecks.

Fatigued Driving and Negligence

Fatigued driving is an act of negligence. If a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel or violated the HOS and caused an accident, he/she would be liable for all injuries any victims suffered. However, proving that a driver drove while fatigued is difficult and requires an in-depth investigation.

In addition to following the HOS regulations, truck drivers are also required to log their on- and off-duty hours. For older vehicles, this may mean a written logbook that details each break, but many newer models are required to have electronic logging devices (EDL), or black boxes, that automatically log when a driver is on-duty. After a truck collision, federal investigators may secure the EDL to determine if the driver violated the HOS. If the driver did, he/she would not only be fined, but a skilled personal injury lawyer could file a claim to hold the driver liable for any damages or injuries.

In addition to an EDL, there are other forms of evidence that can prove a truck driver was fatigued at the time of a crash. An accident reconstruction expert can review photos, property damage, and the semi-truck itself to determine whether the driver fell asleep at the wheel or lost control of the vehicle due to fatigue.

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation Today

If you have been injured due to a fatigued driver in a trucking accident, you should immediately contact NordstrandBlack PC. Our team of Santa Barbara truck accident attorneys are strong advocates for truck accident victims and will utilize all of our skills and knowledge to investigate your case. We have more than 30 years of experience pursuing our clients’ right to compensation and have achieved millions of dollars in jury verdicts and settlements for our clients. If we take you on as our client, you can trust that we will do all we can to get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call NordstrandBlack PC at (866) 298-2041 and schedule a free consultation today.

Additional Information