Young & McCarthy LLP

Truck violations, driver fatigue raise risk for crashes

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been studying the risk factors in commercial truck crashes for decades. It has found that truck defects and trucker fatigue are among the most prominent causes behind accidents. Truckers in Ohio may be interested to know about a 2016 study that focuses on the effect of short-haul exemptions on crash risk.

For its study, the IIHS partnered with North Carolina State Highway Patrol and the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center. The data included 197 crash and control pairs collected between 2010 and 2012 in North Carolina.

Nearly 75 percent of those trucks that were involved in crashes had some defect that violated federal safety guidelines. These defects included mechanical and loading problems, such as faulty brakes and burnt-out headlights. Trucks cited for brake infractions were 50 percent more likely to crash. In all, trucks with any out-of-service infractions were four times more likely to be in a crash.

Regarding fatigue, those who reported driving for 12 or more hours after an extended sleep were 86 percent more prone to crashing than those who had been up for less than eight hours. Since the ELD mandate took effect, drivers cannot fudge their work hours; however, short-haul drivers are exempt from logging their work hours in certain situations. The exemption makes crash risks five times more likely. Researchers say the short-haul issue merits further research.

Learning the risk factors can help organizations in their efforts to reduce the number of truck crashes. However, truckers must do their part by not acting carelessly behind the wheel. When a truck accident occurs, a victim may be able to sue the trucking company for their pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages and other losses. It all depends on whether the victim is eligible under Ohio's comparative negligence rule. A lawyer may evaluate the case and assist with the filing of the claim.

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