Commercial trucks are much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, and when they are involved in collisions, victims are likely to suffer serious injuries. While there are many reasons that truck accidents occur, driver fatigue is a common factor in these cases. Drivers and passengers who are injured in collisions with semi-trailer trucks can work with an attorney to determine whether the truck driver and the trucking company that employed them can be held liable for the damages they have suffered.
Dangers of Truck Driver Fatigue
Drowsy driving is an all-too-common issue for people in the United States, and it is responsible for tens of thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths each year. Due to the long hours that they spend behind the wheel, truck drivers are especially susceptible to driver fatigue. Even if a driver follows the regulations that limit the amount of time they can drive without taking rests, they may still become drowsy, affecting their ability to control their vehicle and avoid collisions.
Some common reasons for truck driver fatigue include:
Sleep deprivation – Truck drivers who do not get enough sleep may become fatigued more easily or struggle to remain alert while driving. In some cases, truck drivers may experience disorders such as sleep apnea that affect their ability to get enough rest and cause them to become drowsy while behind the wheel.
Use of alcohol or drugs – Any alcohol use can affect a driver’s alertness and ability to stay awake, even if they are under the legal limit. Other types of drugs can also cause drowsiness, and these may include prescription opioids or over-the-counter medications. A trucker who drives while intoxicated may be considered negligent per se or automatically negligent because he or she violated the law. However, any amount of drug or alcohol use behind the wheel can lead to negligent driving.
Irregular shifts and driving at night – Accidents involving drowsy driving are much more likely to occur at night, and truck drivers may struggle to stay awake in low light conditions. Frequently changing the times of day that they drive can also affect a truck driver’s sleep schedule and cause them to become fatigued more easily.
Relying on ineffective methods to stay awake – In many cases, truck drivers will attempt to combat drowsiness by drinking coffee, driving with their windows open, or playing loud music on the radio. However, these methods do not actually address a driver’s fatigue, and a driver will still experience impairments to their ability to drive safely.
Truck drivers who are drowsy may nod off behind the wheel and lose control of their vehicle. Fatigue can also result in longer reaction times, “tunnel vision,” which affects a driver’s ability to see what is happening on the road around them, and lapses in judgment. These issues can greatly increase the chances of a truck driver becoming involved in dangerous collisions with other vehicles.
Taking Legal Action Against a Drowsy Truck Driver
If you or a loved one were hurt in a truck crash caused by a sleepy truck driver, you may be able to hold the at-fault party accountable for the accident and recover financial compensation for your damages. The liable party may be the truck driver or the trucking company the driver works for.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has instituted Hours of Service rules that limit the number of hours a truck driver can drive consecutively without a rest break. Unfortunately, many truck drivers violate Hours of Service rules. In some cases, carriers even encourage drivers to violate rest break requirements and driving limits. A personal injury attorney with experience in truck accident cases can help you bring a claim against the liable party and seek compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and other damages. Your lawyer may use the driver’s electronic logbook, the truck’s event data recorder, dash camera footage, and other evidence to build a compelling claim.
Contact Our Elgin Truck Accident Lawyers
At Ariano Hardy Ritt Nyuli Richmond Lytle & Goettel, P.C., we can provide you with legal help following a truck accident, and we will investigate the circumstances surrounding a collision to determine whether truck driver fatigue was a factor. We will fight to make sure you will be fully compensated for your injuries and damages. Contact our Kane County truck accident attorneys today by calling [[phone]] and scheduling a free consultation.