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Truck Driver Fatigue due to Excessive Work Hours is not Just a Major Cause of Tractor Trailer Accidents in the United States

Truck driver fatigue due to excessive work hours is not just a major cause of tractor trailer accidents in the United States. Australia, with its vast open spaces, has the same problem with tractor trailer driver fatigue. Similarly, operator fatigue is a widespread problem causing problems in many industries.

In a recent case in Australia, long haul tractor trailer truck driver Darri Haynes hadn’t slept in two days of driving fueled by methamphetamine before a collision with another tractor trailer in which he was incinerated. In a test case on truck driver safety, a judge in New South Wales said the case “painted a sobering picture of the risk for long distance truck drivers of driving when fatigued… fatigue significantly impaired his [Haynes’] ability to drive safely.” The judge also criticized the company for failing to ensure driver schedules allowed enough time for breaks and sleep or provide training on the self-management of fatigue and alertness.

Examples of fatigue causing disastrous accidents and incidents are common in a wide broad range of industries including trucking, aviation, rail, sea-borne cargo, mining, manufacturing, building, hospitality and healthcare.

  • A recent study by the National Research Council on airline pilot fatigue reports that long commutes to their base of operations may significantly contribute to safety problems. According to the report, about 20% of airline pilots lives at least 750 miles from their starting point for work, while 6% of pilots listed a primary residence at least 1,500 miles from the airline base where they begin flights. Congress directed the council to study the issue in response to a regional airline crash that killed 50 people in February 2009 near Buffalo, N.Y. The flight's co-pilot had commuted overnight from her home near Seattle to her airline's base in Newark, N.J., in order to make the flight. The flight's captain, who regularly commuted from Florida to Newark, had spent the night before the flight in an airport crew lounge where sleeping was discouraged.
  • A hospital intern or nurse working a double-shift accidentally may often a patient the wrong drug or dosage. Related article.
  • The Exxon Valdez oil spill was caused primarily by the failure of the third mate to properly maneuver the vessel because of fatigue and excessive workload.
  • The Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown was caused by inaction by shift workers in the early hours of the morning; it led to a catastrophic nuclear incident that has made the entire city and region uninhabitable.
Client Reviews
"My family hired Ken after our parents were killed in a trucking accident in GA in 2013. We worked with Ken for 19 months before our case settled. During this time I thought Ken was outstanding. He was accessible to us at all times and maintained consistent communication. He was patient with us and took time to explain the finer points of law. While we avoided going to trial, he prepared diligently and I felt like he was leaving nothing to chance. I am relieved that our case is complete and I will miss working with Ken. He was very thoughtful and caring while helping us to stay relaxed. I would highly recommend him to anyone who requires these types of services." David U., Client, Vermont
"When tragedy struck our family in the form of the wrongful death of our son and caused me physical injuries and changed our lives forever, we dragged our feet about hiring a lawyer. I didn't want to face having to go through the stress. Big mistake. The first thing you do is hire local counsel. I found Mr. Shigley by surfing the web, and we got a listening ear. He was realistic, professional and worked very hard in our behalf. Not only that, he showed a genuine concern for our family, and ran interference for us on a number of issues relative to our case. If I had it to do over again, I would have hired him sooner." Carolyn R., Newnan, GA
"After my parents were killed in a tractor truck accident on December 2013, he fought hard against the insurance companies to help my brother, sister, and I. He was honest and always available to answer any questions I had. Ken went out of his way to meet with my brother and I while on vacation in New England. He was awesome in explaining everything to us in detail and looked out for us with every step of the lawsuit. I would highly recommend him." Joan M., Client, Massachusetts
"I first met Ken when I watched him try a very difficult case involving catastrophic injuries. He was an incredibly effective advocate and was able to obtain justice for his client. I have since come to know him as one of the state's leading trial lawyers, particularly in trucking cases, which involves complex regulatory and legal issues not involved in other types of cases. I do not hesitate to recommend Ken for any kind of personal injury case." John H., Attorney, Atlanta
"Ken Shigley is an excellent trial lawyer in the area of commercial trucking. He knows the specialized rules for handling truck wreck cases for the victims and their families when tractor-trailers leave a devastating loss, catastrophic injuries and deaths. He is an advocate who understands the impact on his clients and is highly effective in bringing them justice." Myles E., Attorney, Atlanta