Due to the size and weight of a commercial truck, accidents can have devastating results for all of the cars involved on the road. Truck drivers know that they must stay alert on the road, since any small miscalculation of the vehicle they are handling may result in an accident. It is an employer’s job to ensure the safety of both the truck driver and the people sharing the road with a truck, and it is important that they give their drivers fair scheduling and breaks. What happens, though, when a truck driver is forced to keep driving, despite poor driving conditions? What should a driver do when they are ordered by their company to meet a certain deadline? Should you stop, or keep going?
What To Do When You Have To Stop?
A recent video emerged on Reddit depicting a truck driver that was forced to drive fourteen hours straight, despite visibly falling asleep at the wheel. Any truck driver, whether new to truck driving or experienced, will likely come across (or have come across) a similar situation. The circumstances are unfortunate – the driver knows that he or she is not capable of driving due to poor weather conditions, poor scheduling, exhaustion, or any other variable. Despite the fact that a driver may call the employer to inform them of the situation, the dispatcher or employer may still force them to drive. What do one do in that situation? If you are a truck driver, do you stop even though your employer/dispatcher has commanded you to keep going? Under any circumstances where a truck driver feels it is necessary to stop, it is better to be safe than sorry. Driving under poor conditions can cause accidents, which will oftentimes be traumatic, and may result in death. If you are a truck driver and you believe you should stop for the safety of everybody on the road, it is advised to:
- Immediately stop. This is the most important piece of advice in this entire article. If road conditions are poor, or you are too tired to move on, then stop. Truck accidents are nothing to be taken lightly, and being a little late for a deadline is better than endangering the lives of people on the road.
- Call your employer. Tell your employer or the dispatcher that is working the exact reason you are stopping, and how long you may need before you can drive again.
- Keep a record of the conditions, and the call to your employer. Basically this is stating that your smartphone may be your lifesaver. If you have to stop due to poor weather conditions, take a video once you are completely stopped. Record the conversation with your employer/dispatcher if at all possible. If not, then keep records of what was said and the conditions that were Tell your employer or dispatcher that you are unable to drive due to inclement weather and that you have a video depicting the conditions. If they still order you to drive, don’t. The video can be used as evidence against the employer in a lawsuit if they refuse to pay a driver or decrease the pay rate due to delay.
Truck Driving Laws
All states have different laws on truck driving, but most state that the driver is required to have a ten hour resting period to remain alert. Employers and/or dispatchers may demand a driver take this ten hour break even though they have only been driving for a short period of time, and then instruct them to drive extreme miles that may result in exhaustion. The “ten hour break” can sometimes be used to the employer’s benefit, since they can order a driver back-to-back breaks then a dangerously long drive – which all falls under the same time period when the break occurs. The same goes for poor weather conditions – a driver may call their employer to notify them of bad weather, and the dispatcher may still command them to keep going. Obviously not all employers will push their drivers, but sometimes mistakes happen. It is important for a truck driver to know what to do when they are ordered to drive under dangerous conditions. Since all states have different truck driving laws, it is advised to contact a truck accident lawyer Lakeland FL residents trust to discuss what is and is not legal in any circumstance. Since disputes between employers and truck drivers may arise, it is important for a driver to know their rights, and know their limits. Having an attorney may seem over the top, but knowing a trusted lawyer that has experience with truck driving may come in handy.
Thank you to our contributors at the David & Philpot, P.L. law firm for the above information.