Much has been said numerous times about the effect of having a fatigued truck driver on the roadways in Massachusetts as well as the rest of the country. When a truck driver is tired and drowsy, he or she is more likely to fail to see a vehicle approaching them in their blind spot or the motorcyclist traveling along side them. They may end up running a red light or stop sign, striking a pedestrian and causing fatal injuries in the process. This is why multiple laws, both at the state and federal level, exist to prevent truck drivers from driving a certain number of hours without taking a rest break. These laws are in place to encourage drivers to act responsibly, but the result of a certain case may end up discouraging them from taking those breaks.
A truck driver has alleged that he was fired from his job for taking rest breaks. The case, decided by the federal appeals court, is interesting to keep an eye on because the driver alleged he informed his supervisor about the breaks he took because he was too tired to continue to drive. According to him, his employer violated the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, as it prevents an employer for firing an employee for refusing to operate a vehicle for safety, security and health reasons.
The truck driver originally filed his complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, where it was dismissed. An administrative judge with the Department of Labor acted similarly, as did the next review board. The appeals court however agreed with the truck driver and instructed the Secretary of Labor to reconsider the case.
Taking a break could end up costing a trucker his job while not taking a break could end up costing his or her life. It only takes a moment for someone to be involved in a tragic truck accident that could potentially alter the course of the lives of everyone involved. Accident victims and their loved ones may be able to hold not only the truck driver but also the trucking company responsible for their negligence. This also highlights the need for stricter regulations in this area through a personal injury lawsuit.