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Are Companies To Blame For Truck Accidents Involving Sleep Deprive Tractor Trailer Drivers?
Tractor Trailer Drivers Forced to Work While Sleep Deprived
With truck accidents seemingly according more frequently, investigative reporters from ABC News have uncovered data that reveals it may be the truck companies putting pressure on truck drivers to practice unsafe and illegal driving habits. Such as, driving while sleep-deprived and driving longer than the legal limits. Truck drivers told ABC News they feel a lot of pressure from trucking companies to deliver loads on time- no matter the cost.
Tight deadlines mean more drivers feel pressured to spend more time behind the wheel and sacrifice on rest time. Drivers are often paid only when the truck is moving. Truck drivers are required to keep track of driving hours and rest times in log books, but according to ABC News, some drivers falsify the logs and stay on the road longer. However, log book modifications can have dangerous or even deadly consequences if these sleep deprived drivers cause truck accidents. Truck drivers are more likely to make unsafe driving decisions when tired, such as accidentally speeding, waiting too long to slow down, or driving dangerously around turns. [http://abcnews.go.com/US/danger-forcing-truck-drivers-drive-sleep-deprived-exposed/story?id=25544862, September 2014]
In July 2014, a speeding truck driver from Illinois crashed into the back of three vehicles, killing five people. According to prosecutors, the driver had been on the road for 12 hours and had falsified the information in his driving log book.
A similar incident occurred in Illinois, which killed a toll worker and seriously injured a state trooper. The truck driver was accused of falsifying his log book and was discovered to have been driving for 36 hours without a break for sleeping.
ABC News interviewed several truck drivers about the pressure trucking companies place on drivers. One driver, Abe Attallah from Michigan, was able to record a conversation between himself and the trucking company after Attallah stated he was too tired to drive safely.
In February 2013, Attallah was driving a load of tomatoes to Wisconsin. Four hours into the drive, Attallah was having trouble staying awake, and drifting into what he called “microsleep.” “Basically, your eyes are open. Your hands are on the wheel, but your brain shuts off for three to four seconds,” he explained.
Attallah pulled into a truck stop and called the dispatcher. He recorded the conversation and later uploaded it on YouTube. In the video, Attallah tells the dispatcher that he is too tired to continue driving. The dispatcher told Attallah to drink coffee and go for a walk around the truck. Attallah was transferred to two additional dispatchers, who all told him the same thing. “I just don’t want to hurt anyone out here,” Attallah told the third dispatcher. The dispatcher dismissed Attallah’s concerns, stating that it was “dramatic.” “You’re not going to hurt anybody,” the third dispatcher told Attallah.
Eventually, the company did send another driver to take over for Attallah, and his pay was not docked, although the dispatchers had threatened to dock it.
According to Bill Graves, the head of the American Trucking Associations, companies cannot require truck drivers to continue driving after they state they are too tired.
“The driver was obviously doing the right thing, and the dispatcher was obviously doing the wrong thing,” Graves told ABC News. “There’s just too much at stake when you have a commercial vehicle with some sort of payload going down the nation’s highways with a fatigued driver.”
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