Trucking companies are notorious for expecting drivers to meet unrealistic schedules, compromising the safety of their drivers and the general public, and causing truckers to break laws and risk losing their right to drive commercial vehicles. While many factors contribute to trucking accidents, unrealistic schedules are almost always the underlying cause of errors.
Some common causes of accidents which are created by unrealistic schedules include:
- Driver fatigue
- Pushing through hazardous weather conditions
- Improperly loaded trucks
Driver fatigue is a factor in about 40% of trucking accidents, making it the most common element involved. Among the many causes of fatigue, unrealistic schedules contribute to fatigue due to:
- Driving for too many hours without rest
- Driving in unfavorable conditions
- Loading and unloading the truck during “off” hours
Intoxication and sleep deprivation
Stimulants are far more common than alcohol in trucking accidents. Drivers who get sleepy, will use legal or illegal stimulants to keep going and meet a deadline. Even legal stimulants can be a problem. Coffee simply can’t replace sleep. More extreme stimulants, such as methamphetamines, can cause paranoia, confusion, and dangerously impair judgment. Sleep deprivation itself can have the same effects of drugs and alcohol causing hallucinations, inability to concentrate, and poor judgment.
Breaking laws to meet unrealistic schedules
Federal hours of service (HOS) regulations restrict the number of consecutive hours a driver may spend on the road and how long a driver must wait before driving again after this time period has elapsed. Additionally, truckers are required to keep log books, recording their driving times. They also have to keep receipts of purchases, such as fuel, while they are on duty.
An unrealistic delivery deadline can mean that it is impossible to get from point A to point B without either breaking HOS rules, speeding, or driving on prohibited roads. Drivers who break the law to meet an unreasonable deadline often resort to falsifying log book entries in order to hide the violation.
Truckers who break the law do so at great risk. A driver who is caught violating trucking laws, including falsifying log book entries, or who have accidents, can lose his or her CDL and livelihood. This is a big incentive to drive safely and legally.
Why drivers accept unrealistic schedules
The trucking industry is extremely competitive. Some truckers can choose to refuse a load, but others will be fired for refusal. Those who refuse still lose business and a paycheck when they turn down a load. When a truck driver turns down an assignment, there are always more drivers eager and waiting to take it.
If all truck drivers banded together and refused to accept unrealistic schedules, the problem might come to an end, but that isn’t likely to happen. They know the risks that they are taking, but most can’t afford to turn down a paying load. The problem is only going to get worse as truckers now face even tougher competition from Mexico.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a trucking accident, contact an experienced trucking accident attorney today.