Truck Accidents Caused by Drowsy Driving

Over the past decade, the number of commercial truck accidents in this country has increased by 20 percent. This is extremely concerning, since wrecks involving trucks tend to cause massive property damage and severe, often fatal injuries. In 2016 alone, close to 4,000 people were fatally injured in truck accidents, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

These deadly crashes can be caused by a range of factors, including the negligence of a trucker, inclement weather, equipment failure, and improper loading of cargo. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one of the main causes of commercial truck accidents is drowsy driving.

Tight Deadlines Leads to Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers are known for spending long hours behind the wheel transporting cargo from one location to another, often with not enough sleep. Since truck drivers are frequently under a great deal of pressure to meet very tight delivery deadlines, they often exceed the number of hours behind the wheel that are considered to be safe.

According to research, drivers who are awake for 24 hours straight are impaired in much the same way as if they were legally drunk. Like alcohol, fatigue can cause slower reaction times, impaired judgement, and lack of focus.

Signs of Fatigue

Truck drivers should be aware of some of the common signs of fatigue, so that they can take the appropriate steps to avoid devastating accidents caused by drowsy driving.

There are a wide range of symptoms that should alert drivers to pull over and get some rest, including the following:

  • Burning eyes, constant blinking, and difficulty keeping eyes open
  • Difficulty staying focused and alert
  • Tendency to lose track of thought
  • Becoming forgetful, or missing an exit
  • Constantly yawning
  • Difficulty holding your head up
  • Drifting in and out of your lane
  • Feeling irritable and moody

In response to this problem, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented hours-of-service regulations that restrict the number of hours a truck driver can be on duty.

However, drivers often violate these rules. The hours-of-service rules include the following:

  • A truck driver may not exceed 60 hours in an average week of work, or 70 hours over a consecutive eight-day period.
  • If a driver has reached the maximum hours allowed on duty per week, he or she cannot drive for 34 consecutive hours, which should include a minimum of two nights from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
  • Truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break within the first eight hours of a shift.

Eye-Opening Tips to Fight Fatigue

Due to long hours behind the wheel, and the fact that they often drive through the night, truck drivers are particularly susceptible to drowsy driving. Therefore, it is important that they know the signs of fatigue and take the necessary steps to get enough rest. Following are some effective strategies:

  • Work on time management skills so that you do not fall behind schedule. When this happens, you may wind up in a position where you need to drive extra hours to make up for the lost time.
  • Get enough sleep every night.
  • If you have trouble sleeping, see a doctor to rule out any conditions that may be affecting your sleep, like obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Before taking any medication, ask your doctor if it causes drowsiness.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced meal before and during a shift.
  • Give yourself enough time to make regular stops to get out of the truck, stretch, have some food or coffee, or take a short nap if necessary.
  • Do not drink alcohol right before, or during a shift.

Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims of Drowsy Driving-Related Truck Accidents

If you or someone you know has been seriously injured in a truck accident involving a drowsy driver, you are urged to contact the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at your earliest convenience. Truck accidents often cause massive property damage and life-threatening injuries. We will work tirelessly to determine who is responsible for the accident and seek the maximum financial compensation you deserve for the injuries you sustained. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent truck accident victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.