When truck drivers drowse bad things happen. A survey of current news headlines highlight this danger: "Dozing OC truck driver causes dramatic crash." "Tractor-trailer driver falls asleep, hits 4 other trucks on I-81 South." "Deadly bus crash truck driver to stand trial." "Semi rolls over on I-69 near Emmett after driver falls asleep."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, annually on average from 2009 to 2013, there were over 72,000 police-reported crashes involving drowsy drivers. These accidents resulted in injuries to more than an estimated 41,000 people and killed over 800 people.
Driving while tired is similar to alcohol-impaired driving
Drowsiness leads to slower reaction times, impaired attention, slower mental processing, questionable or impaired decision making. AAA released a report that found drivers who sleep just five to six hours in a 24-hour period are twice as likely to crash as a driver who gets seven hours or more of sleep. Drivers who slept only four to five hours had four times the crash rate--close to what's seen among drunken drivers.
Federal mandated breaks for commercial drivers
Furthermore, research has found that truck drivers who are behind the wheel for over eight hours are twice as likely to crash. Truckers' long work hours cause sleep deprivation, disruption of normal sleep/rest cycles and fatigue.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has enacted a set of regulations that govern the way truck drivers do their jobs. These regulations were developed specifically to ensure their safety and the safety of everyone sharing the road with them. The rules regarding a driver's hours of service require that:
- Once a driver is at work, the driver has a maximum work/driving combination of 14 hours before needing to go off duty for 10 hours.
- During the driver's 14-hour shift, they can drive a maximum of 11 hours.
- A truck driver has a maximum work/driving combination of 60 hours in a seven day period.
USA Today uncovers fatigue regulation abuse
A recent story from the USA Today Network analyzed more than 30 million electronic timestamps from the gates at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. What they found was a rampant disregard for federal fatigue rules. The investigation discovered that trucks serving these two ports, on average, operated without this break 470 times a day. Those vehicles were involved in at least 189 crashes within 24 hours of the law-breaking overtime driving.
If you're in an accident
If you or a loved one are the victims of a truck accident, life can turn catastrophic in the blink of an eye--or with the nod of a driver's head. An experienced accident attorney can investigate the accident to accurately determine liability. Your attorney can help recover financial compensation for your lost income, medical bills and other losses and damages.