Drowsy driving claimed 795 lives in 2017 and caused an estimated 91,000 accidents throughout the United States. These National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics tell us how common and dangerous driving while fatigued can be. Any driver can be affected by drowsiness, but the issue seems to be most prevalent among truck drivers. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even states that commercial vehicle drivers are among the most likely groups to fall asleep at the wheel, along with shift workers and drivers with sleeping disorders.
Truck drivers work long days, commonly driving for hours in one sitting to reach their destination by a certain deadline. Their jobs are demanding, the hours are long, and the work is, arguably, monotonous. When combined, these factors make for the ideal climate for drowsy driving.
As lawyers, we are familiar with the connection between truck drivers and drowsy driving, as it directly impacts other motorists on the road – men and women who become our client when injured as a result of a commercial trucking accident.
Driver Fatigue in the Trucking Industry
There have been several instances of semi-truck accidents involving drowsy driving—so many, in fact, that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enacted regulations to enforce safety. Federal rules prohibit permit drivers to spend more than 70 hours driving in any given week, and they must take breaks during long drives. Nevertheless, the demands truck drivers face are hefty indeed—and even if they reach their capped hours, their company is only required to give them a 34 hour resting period before they can be scheduled to work once again.
To enforce set driving hours, the FMCSA utilizes e-logs to track drive time directly from the vehicles’ motors. These electronic logs can track how long the truck has been driving, which keeps drivers within their limits and encourages trucking companies to follow regulated hour operations. In the past, paper logs were easily, and frequently, forged to hide the excessive hours drivers spent on the road.
The Danger of Drowsy Driving
Despite these federal regulations, drivers continue to get behind the wheel while drowsy. According to one report by the FMCSA, an estimated one in every eight commercial truck accidents occurs due to drowsy driving. Additionally, a survey by the CDC found that one in every 25 drivers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel in the past month. Truck drivers, specifically, have a higher likelihood of encountering the dangers of driver fatigue. A 2005 survey of commercial truck drivers found that three out of four drivers reported making at least one driving error because they were fatigued.
Even if a driver doesn’t fall asleep at the wheel, driving while fatigued is still exceedingly dangerous. In fact, drowsiness leads to a delayed response time, which means tired drivers are less likely to see road hazards or other dangers. Any lapse in attention can cause an accident, and when dealing with semi-trucks and other large vehicles, even seemingly minor accidents can be catastrophic and deadly.
Injured in a Truck Accident? Our Trucking Accident Lawyers Can Help
If you were injured in a truck accident caused by drowsy driving, our firm is prepared to help. We know how traumatizing these types of incidents can be, and we are ready to provide you with the support you need. Truck accidents can be difficult to recover from, both physically and financially, which is why our firm wants to help ensure your voice is heard. We will fight diligently to hold the liable party responsible for the harm they caused and secure maximum compensation on your behalf after a drowsy driving incident.
Contact Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin to get started on your case.