Drowsy driving is a leading cause of accidents for all drivers, but truckers are especially dangerous when they get behind the wheel without proper rest. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving contributed to more than 72,000 crashes and 800 deaths in 2013, many of which involved semi-trucks colliding with smaller cars.
Major Reasons Truckers Drive Drowsy
A primary reason truckers drive drowsy is because they spend so many consecutive hours behind the wheel. Research from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that the risk of a crash doubles after the eighth hour of driving, and doubles again after the tenth hour of driving—making long-haul truckers more likely to cause a crash.
Drowsy truck drivers may be responsible for an accident with another vehicle if they:
- Violate hours of service regulations. The FMCSA has created a number of different regulations to ensure truckers get proper rest between shifts. Although a truck driver may be liable for a crash caused by drowsy driving, the trucking company can also be responsible for negligence if it knew its drivers were not taking proper rest breaks. All commercial carriers are required to ensure that their drivers follow hours of service regulations. These include preventing employees from driving more than 11 consecutive hours, working more than 14 hours per shift, or failing to take a 30-minute break for every 8 consecutive hours of driving.
- Fail to recognize health conditions. Many studies show a connection between adverse health conditions and driver fatigue. Truckers who are overweight or in poor health are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea, insomnia, or acid reflux, all of which can prevent drivers from getting restful sleep. In addition, truckers may treat other health problems with medications that cause drowsiness, placing other drivers and themselves at risk of a crash.
- Skip rest breaks. Long hours behind the wheel can make all drivers sleepy. However, truck drivers are often put under pressure to meet deadlines and may skip their rest breaks or keep driving instead of pulling over for coffee, increasing their risk of crashing.
The attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can help you get payment for your medical bills, lost income, and other expenses after a truck accident—and we do not charge for our services until your case is resolved. Contact us today via our online form to schedule your initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer.