Can driver fatigue play a role in truck accident injury?
Most people understand that driving while intoxicated is dangerous. However, many ignore the dangers that driving while drowsy plays in motor vehicle accidents. A drowsy driver has slow reaction times, judgment, and performance. Studies show that a person who is awake for 20 hours has an impairment equal to that of an individual with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08, which is the legal limit in all 50 states.
The National Sleep Foundation reports that 20 percent of drivers admit that they have fallen asleep behind the wheel in the past few years. Forty percent admit that this happened at least one time while driving for work. Many of these individuals were truck drivers. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, approximately 5,000 people died in crashes associated with drowsy driving. These figures show just how prevalent driving while drowsy is.
Understanding the Role Fatigue Plays in a Truck Accident Injury Claim
Truck drivers are under tremendous pressure. Their livelihood depends on their ability to deliver goods quickly and on time. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates the number of hours that truckers can drive without sleeping. They can do an 11 hour stretch of driving over a 14-hour time frame. This means that over seven days, they can drive 60 hours. Over eight days, they can drive 70 hours without breaking any regulations.
Because of demanding delivery schedules, many truckers drive the maximum allowable hours, operating their trucks even when they are exhausted. Some drivers use over-the-counter stimulants, prescription drugs, and in rare cases illicit drugs to stay alert. Stimulants mask the symptoms of fatigue, but the body and brain are not getting the rest that they need. When stimulants wear off, a driver is hit with fatigue that has accumulated for hours.
When handling a truck accident claim, a truck accident injury lawyer may use proof of stimulants in the trucker’s bloodstream or their driving log as evidence that fatigue played a role in the accident. Insurance companies may push back by trying to show negligence on the part of the driver of the passenger vehicle.
Why a Truck Driver May Be Deemed Negligent When Driving While Fatigued
There are multiple causes of truck driver fatigue. A truck driver could claim that a tight delivery schedule or pressure from employers made them drive drowsy. However, a truck driver knows when they are tired and when they need rest. In a truck accident injury claim involving fatigue, it is often discovered that drivers ignore the signs and symptoms of fatigue and continue driving anyway.
When a driver behaves in a negligent way, a truck accident injury lawyer will look into some of the reasons why the driver chose to drive drowsy. Some of these reasons could include:
- Fear of losing compensation
- Being forced by their employer to deliver loads under an unreasonable deadline
- Sleep disorders that have gone undiagnosed, such as sleep apnea
- Using medications that cause drowsiness
- Drinking alcohol before driving
- Poor scheduling on the driver’s part that does not allow for breaks and rest periods
- Scheduling delivery routes that do not have sufficient locations to take breaks
When a truck driver or the company that they work for is reckless or negligent, truck accidents may occur. When the victim files a truck accident injury claim, they deserve a truck accident injury lawyer who will fight for them and help them get the compensation they deserve for their accident.
Why Is Truck Driver Fatigue so Dangerous?
Anyone who is driving while drowsy poses a risk to other drivers. The risk is even greater when truck drivers are involved because of the major differences between large trucks and cars.
A large truck can weigh between 10,000 and 80,000 pounds. Passenger vehicles typically weigh between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds. A passenger vehicle is between 12 and 18 feet long. However, large trucks can be between 45 and 65 feet long. The massive size differences between these vehicles can make the damaged suffered by those filing a truck accident injury claim all the more devastating.
Large trucks cannot avoid obstacles quickly. A passenger vehicle has a turning radius of 25 feet. A large truck needs up to 50 feet. If a driver falls asleep momentarily and then wakes up, it is unlikely that they will be able to swerve and avoid any obstacles in their path.
Large trucks need more space to stop to be able to avoid a crash. If a driver momentarily nods off doing 65 miles an hour and then they wake up and see that there is an obstacle in front of them, they need more than 520 feet to bring the vehicle to a full stop.
When a truck accident injury lawyer works with investigators to understand what led up to an accident, they will look at evidence that the driver’s reaction time was impaired because of drowsiness or because they were sleeping. Then they will try to determine whether the driver, the driver’s employer, or a combination of both are responsible for the circumstances leading to the truck accident injury claim.
What to Do If You or Someone You Love Has Been Injured in a Truck Accident
Being the victim of a truck accident caused by driver fatigue is a life-changing event. Your immediate injuries may require you to spend some time in the hospital. Then there is the recovery period where you may not be able to work or care for your household chores and family. The accident may have left your vehicle totaled and may have injured other people with you in the automobile.
Your situation can feel hopeless, especially as medical bills, regular expenses, and days away from work start to pile up. You do not have to go through this situation alone. You need the assistance of a truck accident injury lawyer, like those we have at the Personal Injury Law Group located in Boynton Beach, Florida.
Contact the Bodden & Bennet Law Group today at (561-806-5229) or fill out our online contact form to schedule an initial consultation with us. We will be happy to evaluate your case and discuss the legal options that are available to you.