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Can truck drivers get fired for taking breaks?

We all get tired and exhausted in the workplace. So why is there so much of a fuss surrounding truck driver fatigue? Most likely because the drowsy and tired truck driver is operating a heavy vehicle that has the potential to severely injure or kill someone in a truck accident. This is why there are so many federal and state regulations regarding the hours a truck driver can drive without taking a break and how long each break must last. Without them, truckers could end up spending days on the road without sufficient sleep. Since they are the backbone of our economy, truck drivers are encouraged by their companies to drive longer and faster than ever.

This is perhaps why Louisiana truck drivers, companies and residents should all keep an eye on a recent case regarding a truck driver who has claimed he was fired because he was taking rest breaks. As per the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, taking breaks when a driver becomes too tired to drive safely is a protected activity. This means an employer cannot discharge the employee from his job for refusing to operate a vehicle for safety or health reasons. According to the truck driver, his employer violated the Act when they fired him.

According to the truck driver, and as a federal appeal's court seemed to second, he had mentioned fatigue breaks during conversations with his supervisor on the telephone a month before he was fired. Even though the truck driver's complaint had been dismissed two times because the administrative bodies claimed they could not find sufficient evidence supporting his claims, the federal appeals court asked the U.S. Secretary of Labor to reconsider the case. Trucking companies, lobbyists, drivers and advocates must all be awaiting the result with bated breath.

Truck driver fatigue is a real and serious problem that accounts for many accidents across the country, including in Louisiana. Not only does it increase the chances of a truck driver falling asleep behind the wheel, it also could end up slowing down a driver's reflexes while navigating a long and heavy vehicle. Those who have been injured in a truck accident may want to consider consulting an experienced attorney for guidance on how not only to hold the driver accountable but also the trucking company that failed to supervise him.

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