Millions of commercial motor vehicles carry goods across state lines every day in the US. Although trucking companies and their employees have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their transports, they may act negligently in ways that cause accidents. In 2017, 4,657 fatal motor vehicle collisions involved large trucks. One of the most common causes of serious and fatal truck accidents is truck driver fatigue.
The Dangers of Driver Fatigue
Driver fatigue refers to a driver operating a motor vehicle while tired. Drowsiness or fatigue can significantly impair a driver’s ability to control a motor vehicle and make safe driving decisions. Fatigue can impact the brain in ways that interfere with safe driving, such as by impairing judgment and reducing reaction times.
A drowsy truck driver may be unable to react fast enough behind the wheel to avoid a collision. He or she may be sluggish with reaction times and reflexes. Fatigue can also impair judgment, leading to dangerous decisions a more alert driver would not make in the same circumstances, such as speeding or taking a corner too fast. A fatigued truck driver could also fall asleep behind the wheel and cause accidents such as rear-end collisions, override accidents and wrong-way accidents.
What Causes Truck Driver Fatigue?
Fatigue is a common issue in Las Vegas truck accident claims. A high rate of drowsy truck drivers leads to a distressing number of serious and fatal collisions. At least 13% of commercial truck drivers in accidents are fatigued, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The nature of the profession provokes driver fatigue in many ways.
- Long hours. Spending long and tedious hours on the road alone, often at night or overnight, can take a toll on a long-haul truck driver mentally and physically.
- Unusual sleep schedule. A reversed sleep schedule in which the trucker has to sleep during the day and travel at night could encourage driver drowsiness.
- Pressure from employers. Trucking companies pressuring drivers to meet their deadlines could push them to continue driving despite feeling tired or to drive past their hours of service restrictions.
- Broken hours of service regulations. The federal government imposes maximums on how long a truck driver may drive without a rest break. Breaking this rule increases the odds of fatigue.
- Health problems. Health issues such as trouble breathing, obesity, restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea could interfere with a truck driver’s sleep and cause fatigue.
Some truck drivers try to combat fatigue with stimulants such as amphetamines or cocaine. This can lead to a drugged driving accident. There is no safe replacement for sleep. It is a truck driver’s responsibility to recognize the signs of fatigue, pull over and rest. A truck driver must also obey related federal laws, such as hours of service regulations, to help prevent drowsy driving accidents.
How to File a Claim for a Fatigued Truck Driver
Truck driver fatigue can lead to catastrophic and fatal traffic accidents in Nevada. Although rules such as hours of service regulations aim to reduce the number of drowsy and fatigued truck drivers on the road, many people break the rules or fail to recognize the signs of tired driving. If you get into an accident with a truck driver you suspect is guilty of drowsy driving, call the police. Record the facts of your crash, obtain the truck driver’s information, call the police and go to the hospital for your injuries. Then, contact a Las Vegas truck accident lawyer for a free consultation.
Our experienced attorneys from Claggett & Sykes Law Firm could help you prove your case against a drowsy truck driver. We can collect evidence, for example, of the driver’s negligence or recklessness in connection with your collision. Evidence could take the form of driver logs, employee records, in-cab camera footage and the truck’s black box. A lawyer could also work with experts and crash reconstructionists to prove the truck driver’s liability for your accident. Working with a lawyer during a case involving a drowsy truck driver could improve your chances of receiving fair compensation for your damages.