Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Drowsy Truck Drivers – And The Accidents That Happen
Fatigue and drowsy driving is one of the leading causes of accidents involving commercial trucks. According to the lawyers who help clients recover from truck accidents, this is what happens when truck drivers do not get enough rest. Although the rules regarding driving hours have been changed to make them more strict, many drivers ignore such information. Such disregard increases the chance that drivers of 18-wheelers may cause a serious accident. Safety organizations and truck wreck attorneys both recognize that it is necessary for big rig drivers to have a greater awareness of their need for sleep.
Drowsy Driving – Danger on the Roads
Sleep deprivation is a major cause of all distraction-related traffic accidents, with as many as 40 percent of those involving big trucks.1 According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), drowsy driving is responsible for an estimated 100,000 traffic accidents and 1550 fatalities overall per year, . The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) attributes at least 750 of those deaths, as well as at least 20,000 serious injuries, to fatigued commercial truck drivers.1 As many as 65 percent of big rig drivers admit to having had symptoms of fatigue while driving, and 75 percent admit to having had one or more driving errors that were caused by being drowsy.2 Startlingly, 13 percent of commercial truck drivers admit to having actually fallen asleep at the wheel at some point.1
Fatigue, Driver Laws and Knowing When to Pull Over
The FMCSA recently reduced the legal number of hours truck drivers may drive without taking a break.3 This is in response to ongoing research which continues to show that fatigue is a factor in a high proportion of trucking accidents. Lack of sleep is also known to cause a similar effect to intoxication, including delayed reaction time, and is a leading cause of driver error.
Even with increased restrictions, every driver experiences fatigue differently. Sleep apnea and poor quality sleep, some medical conditions, certain medications, and consumption of alcohol can cause drowsy driving. The effects of these conditions can happen long before a driver has reached their daily driving limit. Policing themselves and pulling over when necessary are the only ways that drivers can reduce the risk of this condition causing an accident. There are no easy answers or quick solutions for this type of problem.
It is essential for drivers to be aware of the problem of drowsy driving and driver fatigue and ensure this does not happen. There is no way to tell if one driver will become fatigued sooner than another driver. Lawyers who handle truck accidents advise that each driver must know when it is time to pull off the road and rest. Drivers must follow all driving rules and limitations, and avoid conditions that lead to fatigue and drowsiness.
Both truck accident lawyers and safety associations stress the importance of increasing driver awareness and compliance in reducing accidents involving drowsy driving. In order to reduce the frequency of deadly truck accidents, drivers must admit when they are fatigued. Truck wreck attorneys advise commercial truck drivers to pull over at the first sign of drowsiness to avoid deadly truck accidents!
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Pearland TX 77581
1Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety: Safe Roads – Truck Driver Fatigue, 2015
3Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: New Hours-of-Service Safety Regulations, July 1, 2013