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The trucking industry provides valuable service in this country, moving goods from shore to shore. Along the way, accidents occur. Because of the size and speed of a tractor trailer, collisions between a truck and a car often result in catastrophic injury or death.

In Ohio alone, there were 9,319 truck crashes in 2011. Of those, 5,514 were caused by truck drivers. While many factors contribute to driver error, fatigue directly impacts road awareness, physical agility, reaction time and decision making ability.

Recently the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made rule changes to try and reduce mistakes made by tired truck drivers. While the effective date of those changes passed in 2012, the final compliance date is July 1 of this year.

Points about the new hours of service (HOS) rule change include the following:

Sharing a road with a semi-truck can make any driver nervous. Hopefully these rule changes will provide some confidence that the truck operator in the vehicle next to you is not asleep at the wheel.

If involved in a car, or truck accident, always seek experienced legal advice.

Summer is long gone and winter is on the way. Too soon rain and snow will turn dry pavement dangerous and lead to the possibility of fender benders — or worse — on slippery roads.

As temperatures cool, consider these tips for staying safe on Ohio roads this winter:

Our firm represents clients and their families injured in automobile and other accidents. The best way to handle an accident is to keep it from happening in the first place. Drive safe and, if you have been injured through the negligence of others, get good legal advice.

In a recent blog, we discussed changes to the numbers of hours a truck driver is allowed to operate a vehicle. Those changes, finalized in July of this year by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), are intended to reduce truck accidents caused by fatigue.

Across the United States, the trucking industry is responsible for getting freight where it is needed, often on a short turnaround. Safety is essential for operating a big-rig or driving near one. While shortened hours may give truck drivers more rest, tightened regulations do not affect daytime drowsiness caused by sleep apnea.

What is sleep apnea?

While many people recognize snoring as a symptom of sleep apnea, the indications of the problem are not the same for each person. There are two prevalent types of sleep apnea:

Both types of apnea are sleep disorders that prevent restorative sleep. FMSCA estimates that approximately one-third of truck operators experience sleep apnea, partly due to disrupted sleep cycles and partly due to natural tendency toward the disorder.

Truck drivers or motorists with sleep apnea can suffer from reduced reaction time, poor memory, daytime drowsiness and diminished decision making capacity during waking hours.

If you are chronically sleepy during the day, talk to your physician about sleep apnea. If you have been injured by a drowsy truck driver, seek experienced legal advice.

The process for determining fault in crashes involving a commercial truck can be complex. Crashes involving commercial trucks often have a number of contributing factors such as driver error, weather, roadway conditions, and vehicle malfunctions which may complicate the liability determination. A thorough investigation that takes into account all these factors, as well as statements of witnesses and reports made by the highway patrol or local police must be conducted to determine which driver was at fault. Ultimately, the driver or drivers who are determined to be at fault for causing the accident will be responsible for compensating any person who was injured or killed in the accident.

Trucking companies and drivers must adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These rules govern licensing of truck drivers, weight limits for cargo, and the number of hours drivers may be on the road. Under these regulations, truck drivers are only permitted to drive for 11 hours in a 14 hour work day, following a minimum of 10 hours of rest. These regulations were modified in July of 2013 to combat the problem of truck driver fatigue and increase safety on the road.

Stay safe on the roads by avoiding the “no-zones” of trucks. No zones are the areas around trucks where crashes are most likely to occur. Due to their size, trucks have large blind spots on the sides and directly behind them. Keep in mind that if you cannot see a truck driver’s mirrors, they cannot see you.

In the unfortunate event that you are involved in an accident with a commercial truck, call a Cleveland truck accident attorney at Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg to discuss your rights at 855-GOT-HURT, or fill out our contact form.

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