Driver Fatigue and Accidents
With today’s ultra-fast paced lifestyle, most of us run on far too little sleep. According to a recent poll conducted by Parade magazine and the Huffington Post, the average American gets around 5 hours of sleep per night. Apparently even getting these ZZZs is no easy feat. 60% of respondents from the same poll admitted to needing sleep medications to fall asleep at night.
Sleep is critical to our health and mental alertness, and affects every aspect of our lives, including our time behind the wheel. Consider that the typical morning commute is about 30 minutes. That means most of us spend at least an hour on the road each and every day. Now imagine all of those sleep-deprived drivers sharing the road with you.
It’s well established that being drowsy behind the wheel contributes to accidents, and that drowsy drivers are prevalent. In fact, the Center for Disease Control reports that 1 in 25 drivers report falling asleep at the wheel in the last 30 days.
A drowsy commercial truck driver in particular poses serious risks to the public, given how much damage their massive vehicles can cause. If a driver falls asleep behind the wheel for even an instant, their trucks can easily careen out of their lane and cause a calamitous collision.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a tractor-trailer or semi-truck, whether you suspect the driver was sleep deprived or not, you should speak with The Flood Law Firm. Our truck accident attorneys understand the hardships your family now faces, and they understand the laws that apply to truck drivers. We have the resources to conduct a thorough investigation to help get the compensation you deserve.
Why Is Driver Fatigue So Dangerous?
The American economy has become increasingly dependent on the semis and tractor-trailer carrier trucks to transport consumer goods throughout the country. The U.S. Department of Transportation admits nearly 4,000 people die in large truck crashes each year.
Losing sleep has negative effects on virtually every aspect of health. Researchers at institutes, such as the National Sleep Foundation, found connections between lack of proper sleep and serious health care conditions, like depression, heart disease, weight gain and memory loss. And that’s just on the individual level.
For truck drivers, operating on 5 hours or less of sleep for days in a row is comparable to driving while intoxicated. According to an older study published in Nature International Weekly Journal of Science, even moderate levels of fatigue may produce higher levels of performance impairment than intoxication from alcohol or drugs.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA) has strict maximum driving hour limits for truck drivers. For example, a driver can only be on the road for 11 consecutive hours, and 14 consecutive hours for all duties (loading, paperwork, etc.). There is also a minimum of 10 consecutive off-duty hours a driver must take before heading back on the road.
The trouble occurs because drivers often feel pressured and forgo these regulations to complete just-in-time delivery deadlines. The FMCA’s much anticipated Large Truck Crash Causation Study found fatigue to be a contributing factor in 13% of crashes.
Driver Fatigue Statistics
The FMCA’s Large Truck Crash Study revealed several factors in crashes with semis and tractor-trailers:
• 7% of drivers admitted to fatigue being a major factor in a crash
• 1 in 4 truck drivers confess to falling asleep behind the wheel
• An average night’s sleep for a truck driver is less than 5 hours
Looking at these facts, then considering that the human body needs 7-8 hours of sleep for optimal performance, it’s clear that drowsy truck drivers can be a danger to themselves as well as others on the road.
How to Avoid Drowsy Driving
As the driver of a passenger vehicle, pulling over for a quick nap when you feel drowsy can help avoid a terrible accident. There are plenty of suggested remedies for drowsy driving, including coffee, caffeine pills, washing your face with cold water, jumping jacks, talking a quick walk – this list is hardly exhaustive. However, all these methods pale in comparison to a good night’s sleep.
It may be some time before the transportation industry heeds the advice of media mogul Arianna Huffington who advocates quality sleep, and enacts policies that support better sleep habits. To truly avoid drowsy truck driving accidents, delivery pressures need to be lifted from the shoulders of drivers. Installing a system of sleep encouragement, perhaps with an increase in mandatory consecutive time off, will help truck drivers be alert at all times on the road.
What to Do If You Are Hit by a Drowsy Driver
While there are specific laws that regulate the trucking industry, accidents can and do occur. Occupants of passenger cars are more likely to suffer severe, life-altering injuries in an accident with a tractor-trailer. The costs of emergency treatment and long-term care associated with these injuries can be surprisingly high.
By enlisting the help of an attorney, truck accident victims and their families may be eligible for compensation to cover:
• The cost of hospital stays, emergency room visits, and ambulance riders.
• The cost of future treatments or rehabilitation
• Income you lost because you were unable to work
• The physical and emotional suffering brought on by this ordeal
Compensation, such as financial recovery, is unique to each case. But one thing is certain, if The Flood Law Firm represents you, we will pursue the fullest amount of compensation possible to help you cover your expenses and provide for the best possible future.
Our firm has decades of combined experience and numerous awards and recognition for our aggressive tactics to secure the best recovery for our clients.
Time limits apply to accident cases. It is likely you have questions and our lawyers are familiar with your legal rights. You may contact us today for a free and confidential consultation by calling 860-346-2695.