Tractor-trailers are a critical part of our economy. Without trucks and dedicated truck drivers, many of us wouldn’t receive the items we need or want. Trucking is a popular industry in South Carolina and across the United States. In fact, South Carolina alone is home to more than 21,000 trucking companies

As experienced truck accident lawyers in South Carolina, we’ve seen firsthand how important trucks and their drivers are to our daily lives; but we’ve also experienced how dangerous trucks can be to the motoring public when rules and regulations are not followed. 

The size of a truck alone can make these vehicles a threat to normal-size vehicles on the road. When the massive size of a truck is paired with a fatigued, overworked driver, the outcome of these accidents can be deadly.

While there are strict rules and regulations governing the trucking industry in South Carolina, the number of fatalities from collisions involving tractor-trailers has increased every year since 2019, according to the most recent available data.

Bar Graph Showing Rise in Fatalities from SC Collisions Involving Truck Tractor every year since 2019 through 2021. *Data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.

How Many Truck Accidents Occur Due to Truck Driver Fatigue?

Sadly, despite regulations put in place to protect the public, reports indicate that truck driver fatigue is a contributing factor in roughly 13% of truck accidents. 

Causes of truck driver fatigue can include:

  • Long Hours of Service: Federal regulations limit how many hours truck drivers can be behind the wheel; however, strict deadlines, pressure to cover long distances, and turnaround times given by employers can force drivers to extend their hours. 
  • Sleep Disorders: It is not uncommon for truck drivers to suffer from sleep disorders.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle: Truck drivers may become fatigued from long hours sitting, irregular eating, and lack of exercise.
  • Lack of Quality Sleep: Truck drivers may stop at odd times to sleep based on their driving schedules, and often lack comfortable and quiet sleeping conditions.

South Carolina Hours of Service Regulations

Important Regulations for Property-Carrying Drivers:

  • 11-Hour Driving Limit: Drivers are limited to driving 11 hours within a 14 hour window after a break of 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • 30-Minute Break: Drivers must take a 30-minute break if they’ve driven 8 cumulative hours.
  • 60/70 Hour Limit: Drivers working daily may not drive more than 60 hours on duty within 7 consecutive days. A driver working daily may not drive after 70 hours on duty in 8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

Based on our experience; unfortunately, it is not uncommon for trucking companies to fail to enforce the federal trucking rules and regulations that are designed to keep people safe on the roads. When this happens, you can trust that our team will work diligently to hold the trucking company accountable for these accidents and all resulting preventable damages.

Who is At Fault for a Truck Accident Caused By Truck Driver Fatigue?

To be frank, there are many, many things that go into determining and proving fault in South Carolina truck accident cases. For these cases, it is in your best interest to hire a reputable personal injury lawyer who focuses their practice specifically on truck accident cases, such as the experienced truck accident attorneys at Cavanaugh & Thickens.

Your lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation into the driver, the trucking company, any involved government entities, the manufacturer of any faulty equipment, and any other involved party. 

When you hire the right tractor-trailer accident attorney, the investigation will include: 

  • Notifying the trucking company to preserve all documents, logs, and other critical evidence related to your accident, as normally trucking companies will discard logs after 6 months. 
  • Doing a thorough analysis of each log and trucking record. 
  • Collecting evidence outside of those records, such as receipts of tolls, gas receipts, hotel receipts, bills of lading, surveillance videos, and more. 

All of this evidence is critical for our team to understand why your accident happened in the first place, who was liable for the accident, who is responsible for paying for your damages, how much compensation you are entitled to, and more.

How Does Truck Driver Fatigue Cause Accidents?

Truck driver fatigue or somnolence (a state of drowsiness or strong desire to fall asleep, commonly associated with an underlying condition), compromises the driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle. Fatigue can decrease reaction time, negatively impacting the driver’s ability to make quick decisions that can prevent accidents. Exhaustion can also cause poor decision making and overall reduced awareness, making drivers think they have more time/space than they actually do and/or miss important traffic signs and signals. Finally, at an extreme level, fatigue can cause drivers to fall asleep behind the wheel, which can cause catastrophic accidents.

South Carolina Truck Driver Fatigue Accident Lawyer

Driving too long without taking a break is the most common violation in the trucking industry. At the end of the day, breaking hours of service regulations is a decision that puts other people on the road at grave risk of injury, and even loss of life. 

The South Carolina truck accident attorneys at Cavanaugh & Thickens are dedicated to holding responsible parties accountable for serious truck accidents. We fight aggressively to get fair compensation for all related damages that you’ve suffered physically, financially, and emotionally following an accident. You can also rest assured that we will fight to hold responsible parties accountable to help ensure they do not do the same thing to anyone else out there on the road.

With personal injury offices in Columbia and Mt Pleasant, our dedicated truck accident attorneys handle cases throughout the state of South Carolina and will travel to you as needed. 

For your convenience, we offer in-person and virtual consultations. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, possibly due to a fatigued driver, we’re here for you. Call us today at (803) 888-2200 or email to schedule your free case evaluation with our award-winning legal team.