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Fatigue can make a truck driver dangerous and accident-prone

Nearly every Indiana resident with a driver's license has driven while tired, but most do not drive for several hours at a time. Fatigue can sneak up on you, and your ability to drive safely can degrade quickly. Truck drivers are particularly susceptible to fatigue, and sleep deprivation is a primary cause of truck accidents.

If you were seriously injured, or lost a loved one, in an accident with a big rig, your attorney will more than likely investigate whether the driver was too tired to be driving.

How is he or she going to do that without an admission from the driver?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is under the U.S. Department of Transportation, sets certain guidelines for truck drivers. As part of the FMCSA's rules, truckers are required to keep a log book, which could be the key to determining the driver's negligence.

How is a log book going to help?

Truck drivers are required to take certain rest periods and are not allowed to drive over a certain number of continuous hours. How long they drive, when they rest and how long they rest are documented in that log.

Understanding the rules can help your attorney scrutinize a trucker's log book and identify any inconsistencies that could point to the fact that the driver should not have been on the road when the accident happened.

The FMCSA is continually reviewing its hours-of-service rules. For example, in 2011 the FMCSA changed its rule to require drivers to rest for 30 minutes sometime in the first eight hours they are on the clock. They also required a "restart," which is a continuous period of rest that must have lasted at least 34 hours.

In 2014, the FMCSA again revised its hours-of-service rules, suspending the "restart" rule. However, the majority of existing hours-of-service regulations remain in effect to this day. The recently outgoing head of the FMCSA, Scott Darling, said he expects those regulations to remain in place for some time.  

So what if the driver's log book is not accurate?

The log book will not be the only evidence on which an attorney relies to determine whether a driver was fatigued. In addition to reconstructing the accident itself, the days prior to the crash might need to be reconstructed to determine whether the information in the log book is accurate and truthful.

There are many moving parts in a truck accident case. You need an attorney who understands what these cases entail and how to gather the right information for analysis. Missing one pertinent detail could ultimately keep you from receiving the compensation you deserve.

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