Most single long-haul truck drivers have battled fatigue while behind the wheel. It is considered to be a part of the job, with different drivers fighting fatigue in different ways.
According to sleephelp.org, a 2007 study done by the FMCSA and the NHTSA found that fatigue was a crucial factor in at least 13 percent of all accidents involving large commercial trucks. Another study placed driver fatigue as the seventh-most-common factor in truck accidents, while 41 percent of all truck drivers reported fatigue as an “associated factor” in truck accidents.
Sleep Loss Can Be as Dangerous as Impairment
Long-haul truck drivers average less than 5 hours of sleep a night, with one in four truck drivers admitting to falling asleep behind the wheel at least once during the prior month. Sleep loss impacts driver performance in the same way impairment does. After 24 hours without sleep, driver performance is equal to a BAC level of 0.10 percent.
In fact, it is likely that driver fatigue is actually more significant than studies show since it is difficult—if not impossible—to detect at the scene of an accident. Few drivers involved in an accident would voluntarily admit they fell asleep at the wheel.
How Many Hours Can a Truck Driver Be on the Road?
The maximum number of hours a commercial driver can work is set at 70 hours per week. When a driver reaches that 70-hour mark, he or she must take a mandatory rest period of 34 hours. Drivers are only allowed to drive 11 hours in any 24-hour period, including at least one 30-minute break. Drivers who have ever driven for eleven hours at a stretch know just how exhausting it is, yet truck drivers do so on a daily basis.
How Truck Drivers Stay Awake—and Sleep
Unfortunately, because truck drivers rarely sleep on a schedule, they may experience difficulty falling asleep. As a result, many turn to sleeping pills, which can leave the user with a groggy feeling when they wake up. Other truck drivers may resort to illegal drug use to stay awake, including marijuana, amphetamines and cocaine. Others combine caffeine and ephedrine—a combination which is not illegal but is also not a great combination for those who are driving.
What to Do When You Have Been Injured in a Trucking Accident
Truck drivers must do their best to get enough sleep prior to driving, must pull over and take a nap when tired and should avoid medications which increase sleepiness. They should also pay attention to nutrition and exercise whenever possible. If you have been injured by an overly fatigued truck driver, it is important that you speak to an experienced trucking accident attorney. He or she will accurately determine and document the cause of the accident and work hard for the compensation you are entitled to receive.
Contact Our Fairfax Trucking Accident Lawyers Today
If you or someone you love has been a victim of a truck crash in Fairfax or anywhere in Northern Virginia, Washington DC or Maryland you may have difficulty collecting the money you need to pay for your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. At Hilton & Somer, LLC, our Fairfax truck accident lawyers know that insurance companies don’t always play fair.
That’s why injured accident victims need an experienced and aggressive legal representative on their side from the moment they’re injured. Contact us at (703)560-0700 for a free initial consultation and review of your potential case. We are here when you need us the most – and we will fight for you every step of the way.