Fired For Accident And Not Sure What To Do.

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Ian G.'s Comment
member avatar

I’m not judging. I have zero experience, I have no right to judge anyone.

I simply meant to educate those who may not know that you can’t be forced to do anything unsafe or illegal.

Ian may not have known he had the right to refuse to go further without sleep.

I knew I had the right to refuse to drive, but I didn't know I was fatigued at the time so it did me no good. See my reply to Big T for the short explanation.

I'm working on a more detailed explanation of the accident, which seems to be necessary to fully explain my position. Look for that post within an hour or so.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Bobcat_Bob's Comment
member avatar

The reason I say the company should take some of the blame is that they misinformed me on how to identify and prevent fatigue, then took actions that caused me to be fatigued

At the end of the day you are the captain of the ship, the company did not and can not make you do anything. It is up to you to recognize when you are unsafe to drive and park.

You are spending a lot of wasted time and energy trying to avoid taking responsibility, you need to be far more humble take the blame and accept any company that is willing to give you a 2nd chance.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar
I'm working on a more detailed explanation of the accident, which seems to be necessary to fully explain my position. Look for that post within an hour or so.

Geez I can’t wait...you must take us for a bunch of morons, with no clue what driving a truck is all about.

Ian, wake up!

Some words for you to think about and apply to your “story”...

Denial

Accountability

Responsibility

...some advice for you? Get honest with yourself. That’s the only next step you’ve got that will amount to anything and is quite necessary before you seek further employment options.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Ian, the key is "ownership". You need to realize that you were the one holding the wheel at the time of the accident. That means it's on you, not the company or anyone else. As others have said, you need to be the judge of your abilities, and no amount of research will get you a reasonable explanation, other than you were tired at that moment.

but I didn't know I was fatigued at the time so it did me no good

That is an interesting phrase. When you start your shift, everything is fine, but later on you become tired. I'm not looking back to make sure, but I don't recall any time hacks in your incident. Was this 2am or 2pm but you didn't get any sleep (as in "irregular sleep schedule")? Regardless, when you do realize it isn't a good idea to continue, as the dotted lane lines lull you into drowsiness, that's the time to pull into a safe area and take some Z's. No dispatcher can argue about it. They can ask why you didn't get enough sleep ahead of time, but they can't say anything if you decide to pull in just then. (Being drowsy when by all other rights you should be awake is another ball of wax.)

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
JuiceBox's Comment
member avatar

The company didn't educate you well enough on the consequences of driving while fatigued? What in the actual hell are you saying? You rear ended somebody while driving a CMV when you had no business being behind the wheel. Honestly, you're lucky you didn't kill somebody.

Accountability will serve you well going forward. Whether you were able to determine if you were fatigued or not may be an issue if you so chose to continue trucking. Do you have a medical condition or something that hinders you from making that determination? I'm trying to make sense of this.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Ian G.'s Comment
member avatar

Here is the long explanation:

I started company training in February 2017 and became a solo OTR driver the next month. In June, a manager asked if I would be interested in a local driving job where I would be home every night. The advertised schedule was 12 hours on, 12 hours off. I was concerned about the daily commute, which would take 45-60 minutes in either direction, so I asked how consistent the work hours were. I was assured the work schedule was "very consistent", so that including the commute as "work" would result in the same 14 on / 10 off schedule that OTR drivers have. Based on that information, I accepted the job offer.

For the first several months, the job was exactly as advertised. Because I returned to the same location at the end of each shift, the HOS rules allowed me to extend the 14 hour maximum to 16 hours under some circumstances. At first, I only needed to utilize this provision about once a month.

After I had been with the company for a year, I was given a performance review. My manager said that I was always on time and communicate well, so he saw no issues that I needed to address.

Shortly after that, around two to three months before the accident, a few of the night dispatchers quit. The remaining dispatchers then became so overworked that their typical response time increased from around fifteen minutes to over an hour. As a result, I ended up working more hours that were spent just waiting for dispatch to respond. Each week, the company would send a message asking for feedback, and I mentioned this issue. There was never any indication given that they were in the process of hiring more dispatchers, and the number of work hours kept increasing.

Each night I would drive directly home, go to sleep immediately, then wake up the next morning and immediately go back to work. There was no time for anything else if I was to be as well rested as possible.

The week before the accident, I worked more hours than in any previous week. As a result I decided I was going to switch back to OTR driving if things didn't improve drastically within two weeks. I was aware that there was a potential for a fatigue problem to develop, but I didn't know it already had.

I was "on duty" for about 55 hours the week before the accident. That may not sound like much, but the total time I was required to be awake by my employer was between 85 and 90 hours, including commuting. That time also includes time spent sitting at a dock "waiting for the green light". My trainer told me that time should be logged "off duty" or "sleeper berth" unless you are required to do anything more substantial than waiting for the signal. I learned after I was fired that their interpretation was incorrect, and that time should have been logged "on duty" unless I was physically resting in the sleeper berth. However, this regulation isn't typically enforced. This is one of the "safety issues" I alluded to. I believe the trainer told me this so I would have more of the 70 hours available for driving, which earns the company more profit.

That's only one example. The entire time I worked there, I got the impression they wanted drivers to take risks, but not get caught. They'd tell you how to do things by the book, but when "off the record" they would hint at what they really meant. It seems like the industry is so competitive that if you don't take risks, someone else will, and you don't make a profit. This principle applies to competition between companies as well as between drivers at the same company. The flow of money rewards those drivers and companies who are most willing to take short-term risks for profit, sometimes at the expense of safety. I really hope this conclusion is wrong and I just had the misfortune of working for some questionable people, or that I misunderstood their intent. But if true, it's no wonder there's a driver shortage.

The dispatchers are under just as much pressure as drivers are. That apparently caused them to do things such as view the 16 hour exception as "2 extra hours of work", or call me while I was at home asleep two hours or more after my shift ended.

Some people may have gotten the impression that the company knew I was fatigued and told me to drive. That's not what happened, and this company wasn't so unsafe that they would blatantly open themselves to liability if they had. However, they did schedule me in a way that they could have known would present a risk of causing fatigue. It was clearly viewed negatively when I had to refuse to follow a direct order, even for a legitimate reason, such as that I would have to violate HOS. I was also reprimanded for getting to work an hour and a half late on one occasion, when I overslept after working a very long shift the day before.

The original post may have been interpreted as overly hostile to the company, and I apologize for that. My position is that while the accident was "my fault" and "preventable", it didn't happen because I intentionally took any safety risks, whereas the company did. Had they not done so, the accident likely wouldn't have happened.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Sleeper Berth:

The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Ian G.'s Comment
member avatar

Ian, the key is "ownership". You need to realize that you were the one holding the wheel at the time of the accident. That means it's on you, not the company or anyone else. As others have said, you need to be the judge of your abilities, and no amount of research will get you a reasonable explanation, other than you were tired at that moment.

double-quotes-start.png

but I didn't know I was fatigued at the time so it did me no good

double-quotes-end.png

That is an interesting phrase. When you start your shift, everything is fine, but later on you become tired. I'm not looking back to make sure, but I don't recall any time hacks in your incident. Was this 2am or 2pm but you didn't get any sleep (as in "irregular sleep schedule")? Regardless, when you do realize it isn't a good idea to continue, as the dotted lane lines lull you into drowsiness, that's the time to pull into a safe area and take some Z's. No dispatcher can argue about it. They can ask why you didn't get enough sleep ahead of time, but they can't say anything if you decide to pull in just then. (Being drowsy when by all other rights you should be awake is another ball of wax.)

It happened around noon, a time that I did not "feel tired" at all. None of the obvious indicators of fatigue such as sleepiness or blurred vision were present. I had a normal amount of sleep the night before, but I think I must not have gotten enough sleep the previous week.

If I had known at the time that how you feel isn't always a reliable indicator of fatigue, I would have immediately switched back to OTR to eliminate this potential problem. But a lot of factors influence sleep, and it's impossible to know precisely how much is needed on any given night.

I would never drive if I felt drowsy, but the problem was that I did not feel drowsy at any time that day. Because the work hours increased gradually over a few months, the change in what "felt normal" to me was so slow that I didn't detect that I was fatigued. I didn't even think to consider that fatigue may have influenced the accident until about a week later, when I realized I felt much more energetic than before.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Iran, I'm gonna tell ya straight up what's bothering me about this conversation. You've gone out of your way to research "fatigue" and tried really hard to find a work around for that pesky little word "preventable." All of that has done you no good.

You rear ended someone, but unless I missed it, you have yet to mention the all important proper "following distance."

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Bobcat_Bob's Comment
member avatar

Sorry I retract my suggestion of LTL work, linehaul can lead to some strange hours and a lot of the "factors" you describe.

At this point, honestly I think you ran into someone and are trying to weasle out of responsibility.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.
JuiceBox's Comment
member avatar

That is one long excuse and you did some serious mental gymnastics to absolve yourself of all responsibility.

Sounds like the accident was so clearly your fault, that you are looking for anybody and anything else to blame, other than yourself.

My son who, at the time, had just obtained his drivers license, rear ended another vehicle in adverse weather. When I asked him what happened, he told me "it started raining really hard and everybody slammed on their brakes so I couldn't stop in time." He went on to blame the other "stupid" drivers and even the rain. He was an emotional 16 year old.

The moral of the story is, don't be an emotional 16 year old. Goodnight

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