Truck Driver Fatigue
Truck driver fatigue is one of the most dangerous problems are U.S. roadways. A drowsy driver in a passenger vehicle is bad enough, but what if the vehicle weighs upwards of 40,000 pounds? Sleepy truck drivers are the last things anybody wants on roads in Mississippi and across the country.
We already know that drowsy driving can reduce alertness and have similar impacts to a person’s ability to drive as impaired driving. Worse still, drowsy driving can lead to truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel. These are the accidents we see where truck drivers run off of roads or veer into oncoming traffic and there was never any evidence of braking.
Drowsy truck driving is a problem for a number of reasons. First, sleepy drivers aren’t hitting on all eight cylinders, so to speak. We need our truck drivers to be alert, aware and paying attention to the roads. The impacts of being drowsy have even been likened to the impacts of alcohol impairment in driver’s reaction times and alertness. If we don’t want truck drivers drinking behind the wheel, we certainly don’t want them being sleepy behind the wheel. A drowsy truck driver isn’t paying his or her full attention to the task of driving and is putting other roadway users at great risk for injury-causing and potentially deadly accidents.
Truck Drivers Asleep at The Wheel
One of the most dangerous issues with truck driver fatigue and drowsy driving is falling asleep at the wheel. Even crashes involving smaller passenger vehicles with drivers who have fallen asleep at the wheel can be devastating and deadly, but what truck drivers in incredibly large, heavy commercial vehicles? What if they’re hauling hazardous or flammable materials? Truck driver fatigue can very easily lead to falling asleep behind the wheel. A passed-out truck driver in a run-away rig can inflict nearly unimaginable amounts of damage.
Truck Driver Fatigue and Drug Use
Another problem with truck driver fatigue is the use of drugs behind the wheel. It’s not uncommon for truck drivers to try to stay away and alert with certain types of over-the-counter, prescription and illegal drugs. While they think they’re being safe or doing the right thing by trying to stay awake and alert by using a little chemical help, they’re actually making the problems even worse. Even an overuse of caffeine can be dangerous for a fatigued long-haul trucker. It’s also important to note that a variety of dangerous side effects can occur, including heart attack and heart failure with certain legal and illegal drugs used to stay awake.
You might be asking yourself, what about federal regulations regarding rules for rest? These Hours of Service (HOS) regulations are designed to make sure truck drivers get rest and aren’t on the road too long, but many would argue that they aren’t adequate. It’s also critical to note that HOS violations are common in the trucking industry. Large operators and even some smaller trucking operations push drivers to get their goods moved at nearly any cost, even if that means lying on their HOS logs. Additionally, the trucking industry is continually pushing for even more relaxed safety regulations.
Chronic Fatigue and Sleep Apnea in the Trucking Industry
Truck driver fatigue can also lead to a variety of dangerous health problems behind the wheel. It’s not uncommon for this lifestyle to lead to conditions like chronic fatigue and sleep apnea, both of which can mean drivers are not safe to get behind the wheel. These drivers are likely going beyond just typical fatigue or drowsiness. These conditions typically happen after long-term loss of sleep and can also present with other health and lifestyle issues that make truck driving a dangerous profession.
If you have been injured or if you have lost somebody you love in a truck accident and you suspect driver fatigue played a part, you need to speak with an experienced and proven truck accident attorney as soon as possible about your case. Since there are additional federal regulations and agencies involved, these cases can be incredibly complex, so you need somebody with experience and skill on your side. Accident investigations involving large trucks are much more complicated than accidents involving traditional passenger vehicles, and you need an advocate on your side as you get back to your normal life.
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