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Driver Fatigue the Major Cause of 2009 Fatal Truck Accident

NTSB Issues Safety Recommendations After Investigating Truck Collision

October 18, 2010

Fifteen specific safety recommendations were issued by the National Transportation Safety Board to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently, following its investigation into a fatal July 2009 tractor-trailer crash in which six vehicles were involved. The NTSB determined that the accident was caused by the truck driver’s fatigue, which was caused in turn by recent and acute sleep loss, disruption of his circadian rhythms due to the driver’s shift schedule and mild sleep apnea. Truck driver fatigue is one of the most common causes of truck accidents on United States highways.

Implementing Safety Recommendations Would Decrease the Number of Truck Accidents

The NTSB’s crash investigation report categorically states that implementation of specific new safety rules and technologies would decrease accidents involving heavy commercial trucks. Among the NTSB’s 15 safety recommendations to the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration:

  • Require all heavy commercial trucks to install video event recorders
  • Improve the administration’s fatigue educational materials
  • Require all truck companies to adopt a fatigue management program based on the North American Fatigue Management Program

The crash investigation team also urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require all heavy commercial trucks to carry electronic onboard data recorders, a recommendation the NTSB has made repeatedly since 1977.

The Effect of Failure to Use Recommended Safety Technologies

If all trucking companies did require installation of both electronic data recorders and video event recorders, then truck accident victims would have additional evidence to use when making liability claims after an accident. There is also a belief that these recording devices will have a deterrent effect, forcing drivers to follow the rules of the road for fear of being caught.

As it stands, some trucks carry event recorders and others do not. This inconsistency makes it critically important for injury victims to retain personal injury attorneys who have extensive experience litigating injury claims against commercial trucking companies.

Attorneys who have investigated and litigated many truck accident lawsuits across the country know where to look for evidence to prove liability — even in accident cases where the truck in question did not carry any data recorders. An experienced truck accident lawyer can evaluate your case, explain your legal rights, and take legal action to help you recover compensation for truck accident injuries or the loss of a loved one in a fatal truck accident.

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