Most know about the risks of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drowsy driving, however, which is another dangerous form of unsafe driving behavior, is far less understood. What we do know is that drowsy or fatigued driving substantially increases the chances that a person will be involved in an accident. The type of vehicle being driven by the fatigued driver can further increase the risk of serious injury. Commercial trucks, for instance, perhaps pose the greatest risk to other motorists, especially when the driver of the truck is fatigued.
Causes of Truck Driver Fatigue
Getting behind the wheel when you haven’t had enough sleep is always dangerous, but is especially perilous for truck drivers, whose vehicles often weigh as much 80,000 pounds and are loaded with hazardous cargo. To help prevent drowsy driving, regulators implemented specific hours of service rules, which forbid truck drivers from driving for more than eleven consecutive hours. Unfortunately, many drivers violate these rules, often to meet unreasonable deadlines put in place by their employers. Even when they do adhere to the rules, a driver could still experience fatigue because of:
- Illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious infections, all of which can leave a driver craving sleep;
- Using certain medications, some of which have the side effect of inducing drowsiness;
- Intoxication due to drug or alcohol use, either of which can increase fatigue; and
- Working long hours or late at night.
Whatever the cause, driving when experiencing fatigue is dangerous, lowering reaction time and impeding reflexes.
The Consequences of Truck Driver Fatigue
A driver who is asleep clearly won’t be able to control his or her vehicle. Driving while fatigued, however, is equally as dangerous, as fatigue has a similar effect on the brain as being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For instance, driving after being awake for more than 24 hours has been shown to have a similar effect as driving with a BAC of .10 percent. Like intoxicated motorists, drowsy drivers also have a hard time paying attention to the road and keeping track of what is going on around them. This could result in a failure to respond fast enough when a car pulls out in front of them, or end up causing a truck driver to miss the presence of another car in one of the truck’s blind spots. Fatigued drivers also suffer a reduction in their reflexes, which makes it much more likely that they will be unable to react quickly to any hazards on the road. Finally, drowsy truck drivers struggle to make swift, reasonable decisions on when to change lanes, how fast to drive, and how to respond when approaching traffic lights.
Was Your Accident Caused by a Drowsy Truck Driver?
If you were involved in a truck accident and suspect that the driver of the truck was fatigued or had fallen asleep at the wheel, you should consider working with an experienced attorney who can help you collect the evidence you’ll need to file a successful claim. This evidence could include:
- Photos from the accident scene, which can establish the degree of damage suffered by the vehicles, which in turn can be indicative of how fast the truck was traveling prior to the crash;
- Physical evidence from the accident scene, including the presence (or lack thereof) of skid marks, which could help prove that a driver failed to hit the brakes prior to the accident, which is common amongst fatigued drivers;
- Video footage from nearby traffic and security cameras, which can help clarify what actions the truck driver took prior to the crash, including whether he or she tried to avoid the accident;
- Eyewitness testimony from bystanders who saw the accident occur and who can testify as to the truck driver’s actions;
- The electronic logs kept by drivers commercial trucks who are required to record how many hours they have been driving; and
- Data collected by the truck’s Event Data Recorder (EDR), which logs a truck’s speed, operating time, and any attempts at braking.
For help collecting the kinds of evidence that will give your claim the best chance of success, reach out to our dedicated legal team today.
Call Today to Set Up a Free Case Review
To speak with one of our experienced and compassionate Miami truck accident lawyers about seeking compensation for your accident-related losses from the responsible driver or trucking company, call Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein at 305-371-2692 today. You can also reach us 24 hours a day via online message.