If you were injured in a drowsy driving truck accident collision, you might be eligible for compensation for your injuries and losses. If you didn’t cause the accident, you should not have to bear the financial repercussions on your own.
Truck drivers can easily succumb to drowsy driving. Long shifts, demanding hours, stress, and sleep disorders make sleepy truck driving dangerous to all vehicles sharing the road with commercial trucks. Since semi-trucks are 20 times larger than the standard passenger car, the impact of a collision involving a big rig is often severe and deadly.
To make matters worse, truck accidents are often more complex than the typical motor vehicle accident. Most of these cases can involve claims against a driver, employer, or whoever contracted the driver. Additionally, in addition to state laws and regulations, federal laws control trucking commerce.
You need a skilled truck accident lawyer on your side when you sustained injuries from a crash with a drowsy truck driver. Stokes Stemle, LLC can make this ordeal manageable and pursue compensation on your behalf. Contact us today for a free consultation.
What Is Drowsy Driving?
Drowsy driving occurs when someone drives while they’re sleep deprived. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep in each 24-hour period. A survey showed that 37 percent of the American workforce reported getting less than seven hours of sleep per night.
Mixing fatigue and driving is never safe. Sleep deficiency impairs drivers by:
- Slowing reaction time and reflexes
- Increasing distractibility
- Compromising memory
- Reducing judgment and decision making
- Increasing the risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
The consequences of this phenomenon are dire. One in five fatal crashes involves drowsy driving. After being awake for 17 hours, a driver is as impaired as if they had a blood alcohol content of .05. If they stay away for 24 hours, that increases to 0.10. The symptoms of fatigued driving are similar to those of drunk driving.
Besides stemming from insufficient sleep, drowsy driving may also arise from medications and conditions like sleep apnea. Unfortunately, about 50 to 75 percent of adults with sleep apnea symptoms haven’t discussed their condition with a doctor. As a result, many truck drivers may have this condition without knowing it.
How Many Truck Accidents Are Caused by Drowsy Driving?
Driving while fatigued is a fact of life in the trucker community. Often, the job lasts for 24 hours, seven days a week, and involves lots of solo road time. Conditions often make it impossible to get a full seven hours of sleep or maintain a proper sleep routine.
The result is unfortunate: thirteen percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers were fatigued at the time of an accident. This number could be underestimated because it is difficult for police officers to detect driver fatigue.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends fatigue risk management systems (FRMS) to promote alertness in workers and screen them for sleeping disorders. They also recommend better compliance monitoring regarding hours of service rules and other federal regulations.
Trucking Regulations to Prevent Drowsy Driving
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) passed rules limiting driving hours and requiring rest periods. These regulations sought to extinguish the drowsy truck driving rates.
How many hours a trucker may drive before a break is required depends on whether the truck driver transports property or passengers. For passenger-carrying drivers, their limits are:
- Maximum of ten hours after eight hours off duty
- No driving after being on duty for 15 hours, following eight hours off-duty. Off-duty time is not included in the 15-hour time.
For cargo carriers, their limits are:
- Maximum of 11 hours after ten consecutive hours off-duty
- No driving beyond the 14th consecutive hour after being on duty, following ten consecutive hours off-duty
- No driving after 60 or 70 hours on duty in 7 or 8 consecutive days. A driver needs 34 or more consecutive hours off duty before the week restarts.
Drivers must also take a 30-minute nondriving break every eight hours. They can extend the 11- and 14-hour driving windows if there is adverse weather.
Who Is At Fault for a Drowsy Truck Accident?
Fault depends on the facts of the case. An attorney must examine the driver’s log and compliance records to see if they obeyed the Hours of Service regulations. If they find violations or discover a company culture that pushes drivers too hard, it could be the driver’s or their employer’s fault if there is an accident.
Once an attorney discovers fatigue is a factor, it’s time to look into working conditions. The workplace may push drivers to the point where adequate sleep is difficult or impossible. Or drivers paid by the load or mile may push beyond their sleep needs.
If a system or part on the truck malfunctioned and led to the crash, the truck manufacturer or a maintenance company who improperly completed a repair could be liable for the accident even if the drowsy driver contributed to making the accident occur.
So, while the driver may be at fault, their employer, contractor, truck manufacturer, part maker, or maintenance company may share in that.
What Should I Do if I Was Hit by a Drowsy Truck Driver?
See a doctor if you haven’t done so yet. A medical professional can document what happened to you and start you on a treatment plan. Follow that plan, and only cancel appointments when absolutely necessary. Reschedule them immediately.
Know that the trucking company and its insurance company will investigate the accident. Be careful on social media, and don’t discuss the accident or your injuries there. If you want to document your pain or experience, do so in a written journal.
Call a personal injury law firm that handles trucking accidents. You are likely about to face a long, complex ordeal. Finding an attorney who handles sleepy truck driving cases will make that process easier.
Contact an Experienced Drowsy Truck Driving Accident Attorney Today
The truck accident lawyers at Stokes Stemle, LLC know how to handle a drowsy driving truck accident case. You do not need to face this alone. We can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us start building your case.