Driver fatigue is a widespread issue across the country. Research shows that drivers who are fatigued tend to exhibit many of the same side effects as drunk drivers – delayed reaction times, impaired judgment, and lapses in concentration, just to name a few. What has recently come to light is a troubling trend – Uber drivers working dangerously long shifts. According to USA Today, an Uber driver in Utah drove for 20 consecutive hours on at least one occasion last year to take advantage of a sudden spike in the hourly rate he could earn. Situations like this are occurring across the country. Uber drivers in the Seattle area are reported to work in excess of 16 consecutive hours.
As of this time, Uber does not cap the number of consecutive hours that its drivers can work. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits passenger-carrying vehicles to 10 hours of driving following 8 consecutive hours off duty, Uber vehicles do not fall under the definition of passenger-carrying vehicles. Thus, drivers would not be subject to federal hours-of-service guidelines. Lyft, on the other hand, has been reported to shut down its app after a driver has been logged on for 14 hours and will not let that user log back on until 6 hours after that.
According to Uber, only 7% of drivers work in excess of 50 hours per week. Further, Uber claims that it recognizes the dangers of drowsy driving, investigates instances of driver misconduct, and takes appropriate action when necessary.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates over 100,000 car accidents each year are caused due to driver fatigue. Many states, including Tennessee, have created extensive campaigns to alert citizens to the dangers of driver fatigue. Tennessee’s campaign is called “Live to See Tennessee – Don’t Drive Drowsy.” These wrecks are more likely to be caused by teenagers, those who work long shifts, and those who work odd hours.
In Tennessee, drowsy driving is a form of negligence, which is when an individual’s conduct falls below a reasonable standard of care based on the circumstances. Negligence normally must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence in a Tennessee auto accident case, and the plaintiff bears the burden of proof. Following a wreck, different sources of information can assist in meeting this legal burden. For instance, witnesses may have noticed physical symptoms of the defendant’s fatigue, including yawning, head-bobbing, and other signs suggesting that person was fighting to stay awake. If the defendant was driving a commercial truck or bus, fatigue may be established by reviewing logbooks the driver is required to keep pursuant to FMCSA regulations. It may be necessary to retain an expert witness to examine these documents and confirm if any violations took place.
If you have been hurt in an auto accident, call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz today. We have a team of more than 30 lawyers dedicated to fighting for the rights of accident victims. You may be entitled to compensatory damages for your injuries, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and permanent disability. For a free consultation with an experienced Tennessee car accident attorney, call 800-529-4004 or complete our online contact form.