All drivers in Florida are required to obey basic traffic laws. However, commercial truck drivers and their vehicles are expected to meet more stringent regulations than a standard driver and passenger vehicle.
Coronavirus Pandemic Impacts Trucking Regulations
Some trucking standards are loosened or even elimin50ated in times of emergency. Such is currently the case with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. National emergencies can quickly throw a wrench in normal rules, which leads to increased risk on the road as trucking companies hire new drivers and push for longer hours.
If you’ve been in a truck accident near West Palm Beach, you may be suffering physically and financially. Here at Steinger, Green & Feiner, you come first.
Don’t lose it all to a Florida truck accident. Let us worry about the legal ins and outs of these complex and oft-changing regulations while you rest and recover. Call us at (800) 431-6841 or fill out our brief online form to schedule a free consultation today.
Similarities Between Drunk and Drowsy Driving
If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter or stayed up much later than usual, you’ve probably experienced the effects of drowsiness. Drowsiness leads to impaired cognition, trouble keeping one’s eyes open, and falling asleep at inappropriate times.
Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. In fact, drowsy driving is a factor in 20% of fatal accidents.
One study found that staying awake for 17-19 hours can lead to symptoms equivalent to or worse than a blood alcohol level of .05%, which is close to the legal limit in Florida. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, this can lead to exaggerated behavior, loss of small muscle control, impaired judgment, lowered alertness, difficulty focusing the eyes, and a lack of inhibition.
Drowsiness is a common factor in truck accident cases in West Palm Beach and the rest of Florida. According to the CDC, one in 25 adult drivers have reported falling asleep while driving in the past 30 days. When you consider the long hours truckers are expected to put in behind the wheel, it’s a given that many of the trucks you see on the road are operated by exhausted drivers.
Drowsiness and Negligence in a West Palm Beach Truck Accident
Negligence is essentially the failure to exercise a reasonable level of care towards other people, resulting in damages. In truck accident cases in Florida, a knowledgeable lawyer will help you find evidence of a truck driver’s negligence to get the compensation that adequately covers your damages.
All too often, trucking companies know that they expect their drivers to drive longer hours than they should. This can come out as a failure to properly log driving hours, a history of encouraging drivers to take fewer rests and drive longer hours, or a lack of adequate testing for the use of stimulants.
According to the concept of respondeat superior, these companies are legally responsible for the negligence of their drivers. This statute warns employers to monitor the behavior of their employees so that they don’t engage in negligent or criminal behavior for the benefit of the employer.
A seasoned attorney will also be able to identify any additional responsible parties outside of the individuals involved in the actual accident, like contractors and freight companies.
Just like drunk driving, drowsy driving is a form of negligence. If a driver is too tired to operate a vehicle safely, they can be held liable for damages sustained in an accident. Drowsy driving accidents are most likely to occur between midnight and 6 a.m. or in the late afternoon, which are both standard periods when people experience sleepiness.
Drowsy driving accidents often occur when the driver is traveling at high speed with no signs of attempting to brake. Considering federal regulations allow freight trucks to weigh up to 80,000 pounds – about 20 times than a standard car – these crashes can be extremely dangerous and sometimes fatal.
What Loosened Regulations Mean for A Truck Accident Case in West Palm Beach
Truck drivers are normally required to abide by mandatory “hours of service” rules, which requires them to take regular breaks during long hauls and throughout their work week.
Despite these laws, the trucking industry is highly competitive, and drivers are often encouraged to push their hours to the absolute maximum. On top of this, the laws already allow truck drivers to be on the road at times for up to 14 hours, which is plenty of time for exhaustion to kick in.
The COVID-19 pandemic has essentially eliminated many of these hours of service rules. Though there may be a good reason for this, it does increase the risk of truck accidents.
To top it off, trucking companies already have a motivation to ignore regulations to boost their profits. In emergencies where these companies have been given more privileges to push their drivers beyond the limit, a well-practiced lawyer can help you identify breaches in duty to keep other drivers on the road safe.
How to Proceed With a Truck Accident Case in West Palm Beach
If you or a loved one has been in a truck accident in West Palm Beach, you already know how traumatizing the damage can be. The stress of your recovery on top of the confusion and panic relating to a national emergency like COVID-19 is more than enough for one person to deal with.
Allow Steinger, Green & Feiner to ease the burden. Our team of experienced lawyers can help you navigate this difficult time and help seek out appropriate compensation. Free consultations are available 24/7 by calling us at (800) 431-6841 or by filling out our online form.