Truck Driver Fatigue: The Dangers of Drowsy Truckers
Tractor-trailers can easily weigh up to 80,000 lbs. and carry with it enough force to crush a car in less than a second. Put that kind of weight together with a pressured or fatigued driver, and you have a recipe for disaster. Drowsy truck drivers often make serious mistakes or fail to react appropriately in emergencies. When this occurs, they can — and should — be held liable for their mistakes. However, the trucking company may also be to blame for their fatigued truckers.
Injured accident victims often face a lifetime of uncertainty and disability after a serious truck accident. As such, they need someone on their side from the very start who is willing to fight for them and their rights to compensation.
If you suffered an injury in a truck accident because of a drowsy driver in Arkansas or Tennessee, we can help. At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, our law firm has the experience and resources needed to tackle even the toughest truck accident cases. Call us today to set up a free initial consultation to learn more about your legal options after an accident with a semi.
What is Drowsy Driving?
Sleep deprivation is a problem for many Americans. However, for truck drivers, sleep deprivation is one of the leading causes of truck accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 100,000 accidents are caused by drowsy drivers.
Drowsy driving occurs when truckers become tired while operating their vehicles. This can lead to nodding off behind the wheel or falling asleep. Shockingly, more than half of all truck drivers admit to falling asleep behind the wheel of their vehicles.
When a trucker drives their vehicle while fatigued, they exhibit the same dangerous behaviors that drunk drivers do. They show delayed reaction times, decreased visual acuity, and impaired judgment like drivers with a BAC over the legal limit. This can result in serious and fatal accidents.
One study conducted by the NHTSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) examined 12,000 commercial truck crashes over a period of three years. This was known as the Truck Crash Causation Study. This study revealed that truck driver fatigue was a major factor in many trucking accidents, resulting in 249 deaths and 1,654 injuries.
What Causes Truck Driver Fatigue?
The number one cause of truck driver fatigue is being overworked. Spending long hours on the road operating a large commercial truck is tedious. When drivers do not get rest breaks or sleep the recommended hours, they can cause serious accidents. However, many truckers feel pressured by their own companies to meet deadlines and drive long hours. Many truckers are also paid by the mile, putting more pressure on them to make up for time spent in traffic jams. This can further impact their sleep schedule and result in fatigued drivers on the road.
In addition to long hours on the road, many truck drivers do not have regular schedules. This means that they are not able to get into a consistent pattern of sleep. They may have long breaks from driving and then long periods on the road. This inconsistent sleep schedule can impact their ability to stay awake while driving.
The use of over-the-counter sleep aids and stimulants can also impact a truck driver’s sleep schedule. Many truck drivers try to stay awake behind the wheel by taking medications to make it easier to stay awake. These substances, however, can impair response time and driving judgment and make it more likely for accidents to occur.
Who is Responsible for My Truck Accident?
If you suffered an injury in a truck accident because of a drowsy truck driver, you might wonder who is really to blame for the crash and your injuries. This is a valid question and a complex one. On the surface, it may simply seem like the trucker is to blame. While the truck driver does carry some liability for their actions, an investigation into the incident may reveal other liable parties.
Truck drivers are responsible for their own actions and for not driving while fatigued. Many truckers take over-the-counter stimulants which can also have a negative effect on their driving behaviors. Regardless of why the accident occurred, if a truck driver’s actions are to blame, they will also carry liability for the harm they caused.
Sometimes, trucking companies pressure their drivers to break the FMCSA rules and regulations and drive without rest breaks. Sometimes this pressure comes in the form of unrealistic deadlines that truckers feel they have to meet to remain employed. Other times, the company is more reckless and asks the driver to falsify logbooks or schedules. This makes them liable for the accident and for the harm they caused.
In some cases, the trucking manufacturer may bear some responsibility for the accident. While they do not contribute to truck driver fatigue, if a defective part causes the crash, they still bear some liability for this accident and the injuries suffered.
A Trucking Accident Attorney Can Help
Truck accident victims in Arkansas shouldn’t have to pay for the trucking company’s negligence. The Arkansas and Tennesee truck accident attorneys at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton work to hold these companies accountable for the harm they cause. For the victims, that means going after compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Financial compensation won’t erase the accident from happening, but it can help you move on without a financial burden.
After a truck accident, injured victims are often left on their own to recover. However, you are not alone. When you call Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we will be the support and legal guidance you need during this time. Our attorneys can take the legal burdens off of your shoulders, so you can focus your efforts on your recovery.
Our lawyers are skilled in investigating, negotiating, and litigating large trucking accident cases. We know the federal and state trucking regulations that all companies must abide by. We also know how to save critical evidence, such as the black box data, before trucking companies have a chance to destroy or lose them. Our attorneys will consult with witnesses and experts to help build your case, so you can get the maximum compensation you are entitled
Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyers Today
Plenty of folks in Arkansas drive big trucks or are related to someone who does. And, At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton we value Arkansas truck drivers and the contributions they make to our communities. What we don’t appreciate are large trucking companies that put undue pressure on their drivers or push them to the point where they have to drive fatigued.
If you or someone you love suffered an injury in a truck accident, the team of truck accident lawyers at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton can help. We offer free initial consultations for all injured accident victims and their families. With seven office locations — Little Rock, Springdale, Conway, Hot Springs, Jacksonville, Bryant, and Memphis —our injury lawyers are easily accessible when you need help.