Reducing liability issues related to trucker fatigue

On Behalf of | Nov 6, 2019 | Firm News |

Fatigued trucking is a huge issue that can lead to considerable losses for the liable parties if the trucker slams into another vehicle. Employers must ensure that they have proper protocol in place to address this possibility. While this might not do much to address current lawsuits against a company, it can reduce the likelihood that the business will have to deal with a liability issue in the future.

One of the primary things that you must do is to ensure that any trucker in your fleet knows that they are bound by the Hours of Service regulations. These set specific limits for how long they can drive, but there are also some that set limits on total work hours when the trucker does non-driving work. Compliance with the Hours of Service regulations are usually monitored through the use of log books, which are now primarily electronic.

Setting protocol

When you are setting the protocol for truckers, it isn’t enough to say that they should stop driving when they are fatigued. Some people equate fatigue with being sleepy, but that isn’t always the case. As part of the training, you should alert them to some of the more common signs of driver fatigue.

  • Having trouble keeping a steady speed
  • Simple tasks seem to take unnecessarily big efforts
  • Problems focusing the eyes
  • Trouble with concentration
  • Missing turns or exits
  • Difficulty sitting or standing still
  • Slurred speech
  • Inability to remember past few miles or things that happened in the last little bit

Another part of the protocol should address proper habits that your employees can work through a shift well rested. These include things like getting good sleep before leaving on a haul and allowing ample time for rest during the trip. Insist that they take a break every 120 miles or every two hours at a minimum.

Empower the truckers

One of the questions that might come up if a trucker slams into someone and fatigue is thought to be a factor is whether company policies empowered the trucker to take rest breaks as needed. You must make it clear that they have to stop and rest if there is any sign that they are suffering from fatigue. This point alone might make a difference in your options for liability defense strategies if your company is named in a lawsuit based on a semitruck wreck.