How Lack of Rest Leads to Trucking Accidents
The trucking industry is a vital part of the American economy. In 2020 alone the trucking industry was a 732.3 billion dollar business, transporting the majority of domestic ground freight. Our economy relies on truckers to deliver freight reliably, every day of the year.
Commercial truck drivers find themselves under a lot of pressure to make deliveries on time. Regulations place limits on the hours that professional truck drivers can drive, but they may often find themselves still suffering from driver fatigue. Not only does this jeopardize the lives of those on the road, but it also delays schedules due to accidents and injuries. That’s why it’s vital for a truck driver to understand the importance of getting adequate rest.
The Consequences of Truck Accidents
The modern 18-wheel truck is massive, weighing up to 80,000 pounds. Getting behind the wheel of one of these large commercial trucks requires special training and great attention to detail. Truck accidents can be deadly, snarling traffic for hours.
There were 5,237 fatal truck and bus crashes in 2019, leading to significant impacts in destroyed cargo, insurance expenses in addition to the tragedy of the lives lost.
In addition, commercial drivers who have caused an accident may find themselves out of a job, resulting in lost income, and the inability to care for their family. Companies that don’t receive their goods on time may find themselves losing customers and revenue.
Required Rest Time
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA) has federal regulations that require drivers to rest a specified amount of time per drive time. Straight drive time for instance is limited to 11 hours. However, only 10 hours of rest is required in between 11-hour drives.
The pressure to deliver shipments on time can lead drivers to neglect the required rest times. Even if they do take a rest period, inadequate sleep may make them unable to fully stay awake for their next drive. This is a recipe for danger.
Truck driver fatigue is a result of inadequate sleep. Sleep deprivation is a very real issue in today’s world, and it is especially true for a truck driver. Drowsy driving is one of the leading causes of truck crashes and can cause harm to many other motorists on the road. One should stop and rest at any sign of driver fatigue.
Spotting a Drowsy Driver
Truck drivers carry their cargo at any time of day or night. It may be one in the afternoon and you are fully awake, but that does not mean the driver of the oncoming 18-wheeler has rested. Here are some signs for spotting a fatigued truck driver:
- Running off the road more than once
- Drifting from lane to lane
- Physically see their head drooping
- Frequent yawning
Drowsy drivers should not be on the road, and yet we can see them all the time today. Therefore, it is important to stay vigilant and to be aware of one’s surroundings at all times. All it takes is one drowsy truck driver to flip one’s life upside down.
The Scary Truth
The National Institute of Health did a study on truck drivers and the amount of adequate sleep they receive. Their findings were startling. They assessed that out of the 35 drivers, collectively they experienced less than five hours of true rest in a 24-hour period.
This means that on average long haul truck drivers do not receive the adequate amount of sleep it requires to maintain the level of alertness it takes to safely drive. In at least one instance a driver spent more than an hour in a state of light sleep. This is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
What to Do if You Are Involved in a Truck Accident
Being involved in a trucking accident can be traumatic for all parties involved. Below are the steps to take if you or your loved one is involved in a trucking accident:
- Call 911 immediately and request a police officer, as well as medical attention if your injuries appear severe.
- If you and the vehicle are in a safe location, stay inside the vehicle until medical services arrive.
- Collect evidence at the scene, by taking photos of the damage, videos of your injuries, and getting a copy of the police report.
- Exchange insurance information with everyone involved.
- Ask any witnesses at the scene to provide their contact information.
- Seek medical care as soon as possible.
- Contact a commercial trucking law professional for a consultation.
Commercial truck crashes happen all the time. In a world of growing pressures and expectations, the data suggest that the growing trend of fatigued truck drivers will only get worse. If you should find yourself involved in a commercial truck collision, contact Commonwealth Accident Attorneys to obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries and damages.
Our legal professionals have the experience it takes to combat commercial industries. We will work to hold all liable parties, including the trucking company, responsible in your case.