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Truck Accidents and Drowsy Driving

Truck Accidents and Drowsy Driving

The very nature of the trucking industry is to drive goods from coast to coast and supply the country with the items they rely on daily. As a Florida driver, you are more than used to seeing these large commercial vehicles on the road.

While commercial trucks are an integral and important part of the modern world, they also present risks for others.

The power, size, and weight of commercial trucks mean that if accidents occur, they have the propensity to cause serious injuries and fatalities.

Unfortunately, the main cause of truck accidents on roads and highways in Florida is drowsy driving. Cases of drowsy driving are just as dangerous as other instances of impaired driving (including driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol).

If you are involved in an accident with a commercial truck, we recommend contacting our West Palm Beach truck accident lawyer from Fetterman & Associates, PA, for assistance. We have successfully negotiated thousands of truck accident cases and can help you with the same strong representation.

Learn more about the dangers and prevalence of trucking accidents and drowsy driving to better understand how dangerous it is and how you can protect yourself.

Related Article: Laws That Every Truck Driver Must Abide By

Drowsy Driving vs. Drunk Driving vs. Distracted Driving

Considering the risks of drowsy, drunk, and distracted driving, it would be hard to rank one as worse than the others. However, there is no question that being inattentive while driving is a serious and often fatal mistake. This is especially the case when commercial trucks pack so much size at high speeds.

Unfortunately, it has been found that the people responsible for handling these large and dangerous vehicles are often extremely negligent in their duties. This is partly because commercial drivers do the same thing and follow the same daily routine. In some situations, they over-exert themselves, which can result in serious and dangerous cases of negligence.

Additionally, many drivers are on the road for multiple hours at a time, with very few breaks between them. This is not the best combination when driving. However, the causes of these issues are actually deeply rooted problems ingrained in the trucking industry.

The symptoms and behaviors associated with drowsy driving are the same for everyone on the road, and the same is seen with drunk driving. It includes things like the vehicle rubbing along the barriers or divider on the side of the road, a lack of response, and erratic steering.

If you happen to notice these behaviors while you are driving, stay at a safe distance and try to alert the driver by blowing your horn. This can help you avoid an accident and may help protect others on the road.

Related Article: New Trucking Regulation May Help Reduce Cases Of Speed Related Accidents And Deaths

Signs of a Drowsy Truck Driver

Long hours behind the wheel and on the road, along with ongoing stress and pressure associated with meeting a tight delivery strategy, can result in an unhealthy lifestyle that significantly increases the risk of drowsy driving.

Some of the symptoms a driver may experience when it comes to drowsiness while behind the wheel of a large truck include the following:

  • Daydreaming
  • Frequent blinking or yawning
  • Forgetfulness
  • Hitting the rumble strips
  • Missing exits

Truck drivers need to be aware of signs they are sleepy and take the appropriate break or rest period to help prevent accidents.

Related Article: The Increasing Trend Of Accidents Among Older Truck Drivers In Florida

Common Causes of Drowsy Driving Among Truck Drivers

Many factors cause drowsy driving. Some of the most common reasons this is a problem among truck drivers in Florida and around the country include the following:

Insufficient Sleep

While there are laws in place that restrict the total number of hours a truck driver can be on the road, these laws are not always followed. If truckers violate these restrictions, they may not get proper sleep, which puts themselves and other drivers on the road at risk.

Use of Prescription Medication

It does not matter if a truck driver is taking prescription medications legally (with a prescription and as prescribed) or illegally; they can cause drowsy driving.

Today, stimulant use among truck drivers is not as common as it once was. One reason for this is the restrictions on the total hours truck drivers can work. While this is true, many drivers still use painkillers and other types of prescription medications while driving. Sometimes, these drugs can lead to drowsiness.

Stress

Working as a truck driver is often stressful. Cases of stress, especially when they occur for extended periods of time, can result in fatigue. This will often lead to truck accidents. 

Improper Fleet Management

Today, fleet managers have innovative and sophisticated technology, including electronic logging devices, available to help manage workers throughout their fleet. No longer are phone calls used to see how good or bad drivers perform.

While this is true, some companies still resist this helpful technology. In these situations, other industries’ efficiencies are compromised, which may result in drivers being subjected to impractical and tiring routines.

Related Article: Causes of Truck Accidents

A Disregard for Federal Regulations and Rules

The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) is the organization that regulates the trucking industry. The goal is to make the trucking industry safer.

This organization has implemented rules for hours of service to standardize the trucking business and prevent cases of driver drowsiness and fatigue. If the regulations are followed, the trucking industry is safe. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many drivers and trucking companies.

Some of the rules implemented by the FMCSA include the following:

  • Drivers are limited to 11 consecutive hours of driving per day (max)
  • Drivers are permitted to remain on the clock for just 14 hours during the time to prevent cases of sleep deprivation
  • After eight hours of duty, drivers must take a 30-minute break to prevent driver fatigue and the possibility of accidents
  • Truck drivers can have a workweek of seven to eight days
  • The hourly duration for a driver’s workweek is 60 to 70 hours
  • The resting or “restart” period is created to help the truck driver start “fresh” when they get back on the road

Related Article: Highway Safety: 5 Tips To Avoid Truck Accidents

Truck Drivers Who Are More at Risk for Accidents

According to information from the NHTSA, some truck drivers are more at-risk or likely to cause an accident than others. The groups of drivers included in this are the following:

  • Male drivers who are under 26 years old
  • Workers on shift work. Those who work the night shift have up to six times the risk of being in an accident than traditional workers. Many drivers take on shift work to meet tight deadlines, which means they are at a much higher risk.
  • Long haul drivers.
  • Drivers with sleep disorders that are undiagnosed or untreated.

Related Article: Driver Error in Truck Accidents 

Tips for Proving a Truck Accident Was Caused by Drowsiness

If you experience a serious injury in a truck accident caused by a drowsy driver, it is necessary to prove that the trucker was drowsy when the collision occurred. This is necessary to have the legal grounds to file a personal injury claim.

Some of the evidence that is needed to help prove truck driver fatigue include the following:

Police Report

Police officers receive training that helps them recognize the most common signs of drowsiness, such as yawning, bloodshot eyes, and the driver admitting they were drowsy before the incident occurred. The information is all put in the police report, and it can then serve as evidence in your personal injury lawsuit. Sometimes, the police officer who responds to the scene may be called to testify on your behalf.

No Attempt to Avoid the Accident

Another sign that drowsy driving has occurred is if the truck driver did not try to avoid hitting another vehicle. If other drivers on the road see the accident happen, and they can provide a statement that confirms the driver looked to be asleep, then they can provide a statement that can be used in a personal injury case.

Related Article: Dangerous Myths About Truck Accidents

Time of Day

Truck drivers may drive through the night without any breaks. It has been found that drivers who are on the road from 1 AM to 5 AM are much more likely to have been driving all night without taking the required breaks. If an accident occurs during these times, it can help prove that drowsy driving played a role in the incident.

Total Hours Billed

Another way to successfully confirm that a driver was driving too long is by checking the total number of hours billed. If the hours exceed what is allowed, this is proof that the driver may have been drowsy when the incident occurred.

ELD – Electronic Logging Device

If a commercial truck was manufactured in 2000 or later, then it will likely have an ELD. This lets commercial drivers keep track of their hours of service (HOS). For trucks with no ELD, drivers must keep a logbook and ensure it is regularly updated. If the total hours recorded (in either situation) exceed what is allowed by the FMCSA, then the party injured in an accident has proof of driver fatigue (in many situations).

Related Article: The Pros And Cons Of Speed Limiters To Lower Truck Accidents In Florida

Common Types of Injuries in Drowsy Driving Caused Truck Accidents

If a drowsy truck driver causes an accident, it can cause severe injuries and fatalities. While the types of accidents that may occur are almost endless, some are more common than others.

The most common injuries seen in truck accidents involving drowsy drivers include the following:

  • Pulled muscles, strains, and sprains
  • Brain, neck, spine, and head injuries
  • Fractures
  • Abrasions, scrapes, bruises, and cuts

It is not unusual for drivers and passengers inside a vehicle involved in an accident with a large truck to suffer more serious injuries. Some examples of more serious injuries that can occur include the following:

  • Internal organ damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Amputation or the need for amputation
  • Penetrating brain injuries

Related Article: Common Florida Truck Accident Injuries

Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer to Help with Your Case

If you are involved in a truck accident, you have rights. Our personal injury lawyer and the entire legal team at Fetterman & Associates, PA, want to work on your behalf to help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.

We offer all clients a free initial consultation to learn more about our legal services and how we can help with your case.

Contact us today. We will discuss your claim and how we can help with your case.

Our goal is to help each client get the maximum amount of compensation possible for their legal claim.

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