According to data from the American Trucking Associations, there were 3.36 million professional truck drivers in 2020. In a survey this same year, one in 25 drivers admitted to falling asleep while driving within the month the study was conducted. It’s easy to see why one of the leading causes of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Roadways filled with exhausted truckers operating vehicles are a nightmare scenario for other drivers and passengers.
If you’ve been hurt by a trucker who failed to take proper action by not driving tired, you need to consult with a lawyer right away. There are federal guidelines in place to limit the hours a truck driver operates to prevent unnecessary accidents. Cellino Law will protect your rights when you are hurt by the careless actions of another party in a trucking accident.
What Are Contributing Factors to Fatigued Truck Driving?
Some critical issues play a part in why truck drivers frequently experience excessive tiredness. Staring at the road ahead for hours at a time can lead to sleepiness that affects attention. These are other crucial concerns.
Hours a Driver Remains Awake
Cognition impairment occurs due to a lack of sleep. When a driver is awake for extended periods, it makes handling routine tasks difficult. Concentration wanes, and the mind drifts into a fogged state. For many drivers, this persistent problem puts other drivers at serious risk.
Time of Day
Night driving, especially between 12 am-6 am, is the time most fatigue-related accidents occur. However, driving into the sun can create eye strain that causes weariness in driving. Wearing sunglasses for long periods can produce a nighttime effect that is also tiring.
Shift Scheduling and Rotation
The amount of time a truck driver gets away from driving matters. The ability to function at full capacity requires appropriate rest and downtime. Unfortunately, shift rotations may not allow a driver time to manage personal affairs and get adequate rest before returning to the road.
Additionally, some trucking companies pressure drivers to drive fatigued to complete runs. While this is not an accepted practice and is against federal regulations, it happens all too often.
It is not just a matter of going to sleep but also getting proper rest in those hours. The lifestyle of truck drivers contributes to sleep disorders that play a critical role in their fitness for driving.
An attorney will thoroughly investigate the reasons an accident happened. Multiple factors may occur at once, and other parties may be liable for a trucker being unable to perform duties safely.
How Does Sleep Apnea Play a Role?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects breathing and disrupts sleep cycles. Other health issues often complicate sleep apnea. Males are two to three times more likely to be affected by this disorder, and trucking is a predominantly male field.
The risks associated with sleep apnea for truck drivers have been getting much more attention in recent years. The performance level of a truck driver who operates a vehicle with untreated sleep apnea is the same as having a blood alcohol concentration of .06 to .08.
To put this issue in perspective, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration disqualifies truckers from driving a commercial motor vehicle when convicted of having a BAC of over .04. Truckers could be liable if they are diagnosed with a medical condition and fail to take steps to manage the issue. Your attorney will look into this matter if such a disclosure significantly affects your case.
What Are the Potential Impacts on Driving Abilities?
The impacts of sleep deprivation on truck driving are disturbing. These are areas where truckers can be adversely affected:
- Reaction time
- Motor coordination and balance
- Thought processes
A worrisome consideration is that with chronic sleep interruptions or specific sleep disorders, these issues may coincide at different levels of severity.
What Are the Dangers to Motorists?
Operators who don’t get proper rest make mistakes that can be catastrophic. These are types of behaviors resulting from fatigue that lead to accidents:
- Drifting and overcorrecting
- Crossing the center line
- Over accelerating
- Following too closely
- Driving aggressively to overcompensate for fatigue
On two-lane roads, head-on collisions are a major concern. If a person survives this type of collision, the chances of permanently disabling injuries or severe physical harm are substantial.
What Injuries Can Result When Hit by a Tired Truck Driver?
The injuries you suffer from a truck accident could leave you with both physical and emotional trauma. Two serious outcomes from truck collisions are traumatic head injury and spinal cord damage. You could also have internal damage, loss of limbs, or disfigurement. Mental health issues from pain and suffering are often serious and lasting. The long-term effects of traumas could require lifetime treatment and professional support.
Can a Trucking Company Be Responsible?
A trucking company can be liable for overworking a truck driver and other issues. A truck driver and others are at risk if owners or managers fail to adhere to regulations. It is incumbent on companies to ensure drivers have enough time to rest and reasonable time off. Even the FMSCA adds to the issue by lobbying the federal government for rule changes related to service hours to accommodate the industry.
How Do You Prove Company Liability?
The blame lies with both companies and truckers for HOS violations. Trying to prove infractions requires an attorney who understands trucking regulations and requirements. These are ways to discover violations:
- Driver logbooks
- Onboard GPS systems
- Mobile phone data
- Time-stamped pick-up and delivery receipts
A lawyer can check whether receipts, schedules, and logbooks match or if records were modified to evade federal HOS rules.
Should I Contact an Attorney Soon After My Accident?
When you are hit by a truck, you will likely require transport to an emergency room for care. Even when you are hospitalized, the calls from an insurance company will begin. It’s best if you decline contact until you get legal counsel. When you are able, get in touch with an attorney. If you can’t make it to us, Cellino Law will come to you.
If you decide to work with one of our attorneys, we handle all the insurance calls. We will also discuss how the process works regarding insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits. You could be entitled to a damage recovery that covers property losses, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. The important thing is not to wait too long. There is a window of time to gather evidence that could make a difference in the success of your case.
Hire an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
The attorneys at Cellino Law have the experience and knowledge necessary to protect your rights when a trucking accident causes you injury. These accidents often lead to devastating bodily harm. You might not be able to work or engage in the same lifestyle you once enjoyed. Receiving fair compensation for your injuries can help move life forward positively.
It is essential to speak with an attorney after a truck accident. You need guidance to navigate the personal injury claims process. We are ready to assist you. We offer a free case review, so you will know how to proceed. There are no upfront costs, and you don’t pay fees unless you win. Contact us to get started today.