While many truckers ride alone in their cabs, some will ride together with a second driver in order to break up the delivery route. Co-drivers can be trainees, regular route partners, or another driver assigned to make better time on a specific journey. Although co-drivers may not be in control of the vehicle while riding as passengers, they still have a responsibility to act in a safe manner on the road—and if they did not do everything possible to avoid a crash, they could be held liable in a truck accident case.
How Co-Driver Negligence May Result in a Truck Accident
Some of the most common causes of co-driver negligence involve a failure to intervene when a driver is acting strangely or irresponsibly. Co-drivers are not merely passengers, they are trucking company employees who have a duty to interfere if the driver poses an obvious risk to himself and other drivers on the road.
A co-driver may be found negligent for a truck accident if:
- The driver was falling asleep at the wheel. Co-drivers should be well aware of the first signs of drowsy driving (such as swerving or staring). Co-drivers may be negligent if they suspect that the truck driver was fatigued and did not take over, or insist that the driver pull over to rest.
- The driver had logged too many hours. Truck drivers must adhere to strict hours of service laws and can face severe penalties if these rules are violated. If the co-driver did not take over driving duties or refused to drive for his or her portion of a shift, he or she could be held liable for the consequences.
- The driver was obviously distracted. If the co-driver ignored a driver’s texting, eating, watching television, or taking his hands off the wheel while driving, he may share liability in a distracted driving accident.
- The driver showed signs of intoxication prior to the crash. If a driver is drunk or under the influence of drugs, co-drivers must be ready to take over driving duties and report the driver’s activities as soon as possible.
- The co-driver was engaging in distracting or illegal activities. A co-driver may be liable for a crash if he or she was engaging in horseplay, was intoxicated, gave drugs to the driver, or otherwise interfered with the safe operation of the truck.
- The co-driver was improperly trained. The trucking company may be held liable if the co-driver was not adequately trained on his or her duties or was unable or unwilling to perform actions that could have prevented the accident.
When drivers and co-drivers are to blame for a semi-truck crash, it is the trucking company who is sued for damages. Depending on the employees’ actions, the trucking company may be held liable for a victim’s lost income, medical bills, permanent disability, and pain and suffering. Our truck accident attorneys represent individuals throughout Illinois and Missouri who have suffered serious personal injuries as a result of an accident with an 18-wheeler. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page to schedule an appointment for a free consultation, or download your FREE copy of one of our books, When the Rules of the Road Get Broken: A Guide to Illinois Car Wreck Cases or The Missouri Car Crash Guide: Don't Wreck Your Car Crash Case!