Speeding, drowsiness may be to blame for rise in trucking deaths

Illinois residents have a good reason to be anxious when driving around large trucks. The number of large-truck fatalities reached a 29-year high in 2017 with 4,761 people killed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As for what is causing this trend, representatives of the trucking industry have a theory.

For example, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association states that federal truck safety rules are to blame. One rule that requires truckers to take a half-hour break after eight consecutive work hours has been singled out because, according to the OOIDA, it forces truckers to make up for lost time by speeding. Some truckers say that they become drowsy more quickly because they take the break.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has received more comments on this rule than on any other hours-of-service rule, and it may consider a modification in the future. However, the chief counsel for the FMCSA believes there is no link between HOS rules and the increase in fatalities.

Other factors are, after all, present. Drowsy driving has become a widespread issue among truckers mainly due to a scarcity of truck stops and rest areas. Distracted driving, especially texting and driving, is on the rise. Truckers can even put too much trust in driver-assist features like adaptive cruise control and become inattentive to the road.

When a trucker is the at-fault driver in a collision, the trucking company will likely have to face a personal injury lawsuit. Victims are advised to hire a lawyer, who can in turn show how negligence occurred. They could gather proof like the trucker's work log, in-cab camera footage and truck maintenance records. The lawyer can then negotiate for a fair settlement covering medical care, disability benefits, lost income and whatever else is applicable.

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