Truck Accidents Caused by Sleep Deprivation

Did you know that one in three American adults report not getting enough sleep on a given day? When one of those sleep-deprived individuals is driving an 80,000-pound semi-truck in Alabama, innocent people suffer. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the percentage of fatal truck crashes caused by a sleepy truck driver could be as high as 56 percent. 

If you are a truck accident victim, contact the personal injury law firm that gets results. At Stokes Stemle, LLC, we concentrate on helping those harmed by someone’s negligence. You deserve an experienced attorney to determine liability and maximize the value of your accident claim. Let a dedicated truck accident lawyer tackle the insurance company while you focus on feeling better. Contact Stokes Stemle, LLC for a free consultation to get started. 

How Prevalent Is Sleep Deprivation in Trucking?

Commercial truck drivers often remain behind the wheel despite their fatigue. The statistics for this dangerous behavior are alarming:

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that drowsy driving caused 91,000 crashes, 50,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in the United States in a recent year. 
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Large Truck Crash Causation Study cited driver fatigue as one of three major factors in crashes, along with intoxication and speeding. 
  • In a study sponsored by the American Automobile Association (AAA), results showed that drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. Sleep-deprived drivers are eight times more likely to cause or contribute to accidents. 

Why Sleep-Deprived Truckers Are So Dangerous

Sleep deprivation has a tremendous negative impact on cognitive function, reaction times, and overall driving performance. Here are several reasons why:

  • Decreased alertness – Truckers must be ready for traffic signals, changes in road or weather conditions, and other potential hazards. 
  • Slower reaction times – Fatigue slows reaction time and delays responses to sudden or unexpected incidents, which increases the risk of collisions. 
  • Impaired decision-making – Sleepy truck drivers are more likely to make unsafe maneuvers through delayed or inappropriate decisions. 
  • Increased risk of falling asleep – Fatigued truckers might fall asleep while driving. Even a few seconds of being unconscious can cause an accident. 

Regulations and Industry Standards to Mitigate Drowsy Driving

The FMCSA’s Hours of Service (HOS) regulations were designed to prevent drowsy driving accidents. The regulations limit the hours a commercial truck driver can be on the road without rest:

    • 14-Hour “Driving Window” Limit – The 14-hour driving window refers to the maximum amount of time a commercial truck driver may perform driving and non-driving activities in a consecutive 14-hour period. After the 14 hours, they must take a 10-hour off-duty break.
    • 11-Hour Driving Limit – Within the 14-hour driving window, a truck driver’s actual driving time is a maximum of 11 hours. After reaching the 11-hour driving limit or the end of the 14-hour window, whichever comes first, the driver must take a 10-hour break.
    • 60/70 Hour Limit – If a driver has been on duty for 60 hours within seven days or 70 hours within eight days, they must have at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty before resuming work.
    • 30-Minute Break – Truckers must take a 30-minute break after driving eight cumulative hours.

Who Is Liable for a Drowsy Driving Truck Accident?

Despite the overwhelming evidence that shows drowsy driving causes accidents, injuries, and death, there is still pressure on truck drivers to ignore federal safety standards. A truck driver’s job is delivering goods – and when the wheels aren’t turning, they aren’t earning. Commercial truck companies sometimes encourage this dangerous behavior or create such pressure on drivers that they feel they must comply or risk losing their jobs. 

A semi-truck accident law firm can examine the circumstances of a crash to determine liability. In many cases, there can be more than one party to blame, including the:

  • Trucking company
  • Truck driver
  • Cargo supplier or loader
  • Truck manufacturer
  • Truck maintenance company
  • Truck owner (if separate)

What To Do After a Semi-Truck Accident

The vast difference in size between a semi-truck and a passenger vehicle can lead to severe or extensive injuries to drivers. Your first action after a truck accident is to seek medical care if you did not receive treatment at the accident site. Here are other things to do after a truck crash:

  • Contact a truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Drowsy truck driving accidents are often complex and require a thorough investigation of the facts and involved parties. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the better the chance they have of getting photos, videos, witness statements, and other evidence.
  • Follow through on all prescribed medical care, including rehabilitation and therapy. Keep track of doctor appointments, medical visits, and trips to the pharmacy. 
  • Let your attorney communicate with the insurance company. Even a seemingly innocent statement on your part could harm your chance of recovering compensation. 

Compensation for Victims of Sleep-Deprived Truckers

Truck accident injuries can be severe. When they are, they cost more. You could pursue compensation for your physical, emotional, and financial losses, such as:

  • Past, present, and future medical care
  • Rehabilitation and therapy
  • Lost wages
  • Reduced earning ability due to injuries
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage

Contact Our Alabama Truck Accident Attorneys to Learn More

Did a sleepy truck driver cause your accident injuries? An experienced truck accident lawyer with Stokes Stemle, LLC can identify those responsible and demand fair compensation for you or a loved one. Alabama limits the available time to file a lawsuit, so contact our semi-truck accident law firm today for a free consultation.