If you’ve ever taken a road trip, you are aware of how monotonous and taxing it can be to drive for long periods of time. Truck drivers, more than anyone, know how true this can be.
Typically, truckers are under pressure to cover a lot of ground quickly in order to deliver their loads as soon as possible. Undoubtedly, stress, long hours, and boredom all contribute to truck drivers getting tired, and tired drivers are the most dangerous ones on the road.
If you are involved in a trucking accident caused by a drowsy driver, you should contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible because you may be entitled to significant compensation to cover the cost of your injuries or vehicle damage.
Continue reading to find out more about driving fatigue accidents, how they commonly occur, and what to do if you are a victim of one.
How Common is Drowsy Driving?
According to the United States Department of Transportation, truck driver fatigue contributes to 40% of all heavy truck crashes with fatigue being a major factor in 52% of 107 heavy truck crashes.
In 2008, the Florida Legislature designated the first week of September as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week to inform the public about the dangers of driving while drowsy and to honor the memory of 8-year-old Ronshay Dugans who was killed when her school bus was hit by a driver who fell asleep.
Due to the nature of the industry, commercial truck drivers are more likely to drive while fatigued than other drivers. Because of the high number of trucking accidents caused by drowsy drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits the number of hours a truck driver can drive. These regulations are intended to keep tired drivers off the road. Drivers must take a 30-minute break after driving for 8 hours, and should not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in a 7/8 consecutive day period.
What Factors Contribute to Driver Fatigue?
The trucking business can be highly demanding. Businesses rely on the deliveries made by drivers to bring the public commodities we need such as food, appliances, and other common goods. Therefore, there is a lot of pressure on truckers to complete their routes quickly.
If a delivery is late, a trucking company runs the risk of losing valued customers. This type of pressure may encourage drivers to push themselves to drive longer hours or accept erratic schedules. Pulling an all-nighter, for example, can exhaust drivers and make them slower to react, increasing the risk of a driver fatigue accident. Beyond lack of sleep, other common sources of driver fatigue include:
- The Common Cold: Germs don’t discriminate; everyone has been sick at some point in their lives. A cold can make it challenging to complete a workday, let alone drive long distances; a temperature, chills, and cold medications can make you tired and impair your judgment, making mistakes more likely. Mistakes for a trucker can have devastating consequences for those on the road.
- Prescription or Non-prescription Drug Use: Medication, whether prescribed or purchased over-the-counter, should be used with caution by drivers as many drugs have side effects that may cause sleepiness or slow reaction times. Before taking any medication, a driver should speak with their doctor, if that doctor has recommended a drug that can make them tired, they should avoid using it while driving as it could be a risk factor that contributes to an accident.
- Illegal Substance Abuse or Alcohol Use: Driving while under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol is extremely risky. Driving while intoxicated is not only illegal but it impairs judgment and increases fatigue. Driving while intoxicated can also make it harder for users to maintain coordination and increases their chance of nodding off behind the wheel.
- Overscheduling or Sudden Shift Changes: Because trucks travel on Florida’s roads at all hours of the day and night, truck drivers frequently face overbooking or inconsistent shift work, with their schedules changing from one week to another. Sudden changes in work schedules can be a shock to a person’s system and disrupt sleep patterns. Constantly changing sleep patterns make it difficult for a driver to keep a steady sleep schedule which can lead to conditions like insomnia, exacerbating the situation and raising the risk of a fatigue-related accident.
What Should You Do If You Are Involved in a Truck Accident Caused by a Tired Driver?
Truck accident compensation claims can be complicated because multiple parties, including the truck driver, their company, and others, may be involved. However, if you are injured in an accident caused by driver fatigue, you may be entitled to compensation. That is why it is critical to contact a seasoned personal injury lawyer, such as the Law Offices of Leonard J. Valdes. Our compassionate and experienced lawyers will examine your case to determine how much compensation you are entitled to. We will also assist you in gathering evidence in order to determine who is at fault and begin the process of obtaining the compensation you are entitled to.