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Changing laws to prevent drowsy truck drivers

A traffic accident, even with minor injuries, can instantly bring your day to a halt. You cancel your plans to deal with the inconvenience of X-rays, car repairs and insurance issues, and it may be days before things begin to seem normal again.

However, if your traffic accident involves a tractor-trailer, it is likely your recovery will be long and painful. In fact, instead of minor inconveniences, you may stuck in a hospital bed for weeks or paying for astronomical medical expenses. In addition to your own injuries, perhaps you even dealt with the heartbreak of your loved one's funeral.

Re-start and mandatory sleep hours

Truck accidents on West Virginia roads are often catastrophic, and federal safety agencies have been working with lawmakers to pass legislation forcing commercial vehicle drivers to operate their vehicles with more caution.

In 2013, Congress passed a law requiring drivers to take a 34-hour re-start break at the end of each 70-hour week. The re-start had to include sleep between the hours of one and five a.m. If your accident involved a drowsy truck driver, this law may have special significance for you.

As you know, trucking is a business, and time lost is money lost. While most truckers agreed with the mandatory re-start, they complained about being forced to sleep at certain hours. Not only did the one-to-five rule hamper delivery efficiency, but the trucking industry claimed it actually made the highways more dangerous for several reasons:

  • Because of the reduction in productivity, trucking companies pushed their drivers to meet their quotas.
  • When shifts didn't end until after 1 a.m., drivers had to extend their breaks to get the required number of sleep hours. This may have forced them to drive faster to make up time.
  • Because truckers couldn't drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., trucks congested the roads during the most likely time for accidents: rush hour.
  • Many truckers already had regular sleep patterns which the law disrupted, resulting in even more drowsy drivers.

You may be surprised to know that crashes involving trucks actually increased 4 percent during the time the one-to-five rule was in place. In fact, after 2009, truck accidents increased by 20 percent. Because of this, Congress recently agreed to remove the one-to-five stipulation in the re-start law. Truckers may now sleep whenever they like during their 34-hour breaks.

Recovering from a tragic accident

If you or a loved one are involved in a catastrophic accident, you won't care whether it happened during the day or night. It will still be devastating to you. It won't matter whether a law was enacted to stop future drowsy driving. However, you do have recourse to regain some of what you lost from the negligent driver and trucking company responsible for your accident.

A personal injury attorney can examine your case and help you determine what steps to take to seek possible compensation through the civil courts. While money will certainly not return your loved one to you or take things back to where they were before, it can help you in your recovery by potentially allowing you to obtain excellent medical care and take steps toward rebuilding your life.

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