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Truck Driver Fatigue and Georgia Law: Pursuing Claims for Sleep-Related Accidents

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What Are Georgia Regulations on Fatigued Truck Driving?

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, research suggests that fatigue contributes to 30% to 40% of all large truck accidents. A fatigued truck driver operating a huge semi-tractor-trailer can be a menace to everyone on the road. For this reason, the federal government has issued hours of service regulations for commercial drivers to help prevent sleep-related truck accidents. The Georgia Department of Public Safety has issued its own Hours of Service Rules. With certain exceptions, these rules apply to all motor carriers and drivers. For property-carrying operations, they include:

  • 11 hour rule: Truck drivers are only allowed to drive for 11 hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • 14 hour rule: A motor carrier cannot permit or require a driver to drive after the 14th hour after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty, with certain exceptions.
  • 60 and 70 hour rules: A motor carrier must not permit or require a driver to drive after 60 hours on duty in seven consecutive days OR 70 hours on duty in eight consecutive days. The seven or eight-consecutive day period may restart after an off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours.

Drivers carrying passengers in Georgia are subject to slightly different regulations. They are only allowed to drive for 10 hours following eight consecutive hours off duty. Motor carriers cannot permit or require drivers carrying passengers to drive after 15 hours on duty following eight consecutive hours off duty. 

What Makes Fatigued Truck Driving So Dangerous?

Fatigued or drowsy driving is dangerous under any circumstances. Sleep deprivation can lead to driver impairment, similar to the effects of alcohol. Long-haul drivers, such as truckers, have a higher risk of crashing due to drowsiness.

With a fatigued driver behind the wheel of a large commercial truck, the risk of a deadly truck accident is significantly increased. As stated in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publication on CMV Driver Fatigue, being awake for 18 hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%. According to a recent study, three out of four CMV drivers report having committed at least one type of driving error as a result of drowsiness. 

The average passenger vehicle weight is 4,000 lbs. In a collision with a fully loaded 18-wheeler weighing 80,000 lbs. or more, passenger vehicle occupants are likely to suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries. As stated in NSC Injury Facts: Large Trucks, 5,788 people were killed in large truck crashes in 2021. Of those fatalities, 72% were occupants of other vehicles, and 11% were pedestrians or bicyclists. 

How Can Hours of Service Violations Affect Your Claim for Compensation?

If you have been injured in a truck accident caused by a fatigued truck driver, you are entitled to seek compensation for the losses you have suffered. Violations of state or federal hours of service regulations may constitute negligence on the part of the truck driver and/or the trucking company. Evidence of hours of service violations may be obtained from the truck’s “black box” or electronic control module (ECM) data, or from other sources. Our experienced Georgia truck accident attorney can conduct a thorough investigation of your accident to establish fault and liability and to secure evidence to support your claim. 

How Can The Scott Pryor Law Group Help?

Our seasoned trial lawyers at The Scott Pryor Law Group have the knowledge, skills, and resources to effectively pursue the compensation you deserve after a serious truck accident. We can protect your rights and fight for the maximum recovery available while you focus on recovering from your injuries and getting your life back on track. Founding attorney Scott Pryor has been named among the top 1% of trial lawyers in the nation and awarded membership in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Contact us at (404) 474-7122 if you or your loved one has been hurt in a crash caused by a fatigued truck driver. 

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