American truckers have a difficult job, and, one of the most dangerous according to recent reports. In 2011, 759 truckers and deliverymen were killed on the job. Fatigue is considered the number one cause of the accidents that caused fatalities. Trucking, as an occupation, has been described as a “sweatshop on wheels”. Truckers are faced with serious time constraints, and are under a great deal of pressure to deliver their load in a timely manner. Many times, truckers are forced to sacrifice sleep and safety to get to their delivery point at the proper time.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
The most common cause of truck accidents is driver error. Driver error can pertain to anything from a trucker being tired, to improper lane changes, speeding or an inability to stop with enough time to avoid an accident. Driver error also pertains to situations in which the trucker is not at fault for the accident, but error on another driver’s part has caused the accident.
After Driver error, the second most common cause of trucking accidents is equipment failure. Equipment that is not properly maintained can break and cause accidents while on the rode. Likewise, equipment failures can occur at anytime, even with proper maintenance. Tire blow outs, brake failures, and stability control failures can all lead to accidents while driving.
Weather conditions are also a cause of trucking accidents. According to the Department of Transportation, it is advisable for truckers to stop at the closest rest stop during adverse weather conditions to avoid potential accidents. Adverse weather conditions for truckers include high winds, snow, ice and heavy rain, all of which make driving a large, commercial truck more difficult.
Illinois Law Pertaining to the Trucking Industry
Illinois and Chicago truckers must follow the regulations of the Department of Transportation as well as the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration. Both federal departments oversee and regulate the trucking industry. The FMCSA and the DOT regulate the amount of hours a driver can drive, depending on their off-duty hours. For example, a trucker can not drive more than 10 hours with 10 hours off the clock. A driver who has had 36 hours of rest can drive for no more than 11 hours, unless adverse weather conditions cause the driving time to increase. Even in adverse conditions a trucker can not driver more than two hours past their allotted driving time without a break. Truckers driving in Illinois and Chicago must adhere to these regulations.
In the state of Illinois it is illegal for any truck driver to use an electronic device while driving. Truckers may only read messages displayed on a heads-up display permanently affixed to the truck. Truckers are also not permitted to use a cell phone while driving, unless in voice-activated mode, or through Bluetooth technology. These laws aim at protecting the trucker and the drivers around them, as use of these devices are shown to increase the likelihood of an accident. Aside from trucker-specific regulations, truck drivers must adhere to all traffic laws set forth by the state of Illinois and any city they are in, including Chicago.
Workers’ Compensation for Truck Drivers
Truck drivers who are hurt on the job due to their working conditions may have cause to seek out workers’ compensation. While many work accidents in the trucking industry are caused by fatigue and driver error, there are accidents that are caused by problems or conditions not directly related to the driver. Poor maintenance, mechanical failure, and unsafe schedules assigned by the trucking company, can all cause accidents and injuries to the driver and others.
Law Office of Kenneth A. Fishman, P.C.