Have you been injured in a truck accident and need help? Call the offices of Burg Simpson for compassionate, dedicated legal counsel.

Driving while drowsy is one of the main causes of commercial trucking accidents in the United States. Truck operators are under a tremendous amount of pressure to meet strict delivery deadlines, earn a living, and maintain their jobs, but when the operator of a 16-ton commercial vehicle is fatigued, the outcome is often catastrophic. The people who will most likely be hurt or killed during a truck accident are not the drivers of the trucks, but the occupants of other, smaller vehicles. If you were a driver in a vehicle that had a wreck with a big truck, contact our offices for a free consultation. We may be able to help get you compensation, especially if you were severely injured.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration oversees the commercial trucking industry, including things like how many hours drivers are allowed to operate their trucks on a weekly and daily basis. In 2020, new regulations were adopted in an attempt to improve flexibility for truck drivers while also improving their safety on the road. These new regulations include:

  • An 11-hour daily driving maximum
  • A 70-hour work week limit, followed by 34 hours off the clock
  • A mandatory 30-minute break following 8 hours of consecutive driving. This break can be taken in “off-duty” status or “on-duty, not driving” status

Unfortunately, the trucking industry is excessively cutthroat, and these types of rules and regulations aren’t always sufficient for keeping sleep-deprived truckers from driving. Trucking companies have to make deliveries as cheaply and as fast as possible in order to turn a profit. The faster a driver completes their delivery, the faster they can get back on the highway with another. To reduce their overhead, trucking companies usually pay their drivers per mile and do not offer any compensation for “on-duty” hours spent on mandatory rest times and vehicle inspections. This system naturally prompts truck drivers to skip or foreshorten their required rest breaks in order to maximize their checks.

When an accident does take place, trucking companies have their own teams of attorneys who understand the regulations and laws that come into play and how they can use them to their client’s benefit. If you were injured in a truck accident and you think fatigued driving was to blame, you need an experienced truck driver fatigue accident lawyer from Burg Simpson who knows how to best represent your injury claim.

You Need an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer

Burg Simpson has more than four decades of experience in handling truck accident cases, including ones caused by fatigued driving. Trucking companies have teams of adjusters, investigators, lawyers, and agents whose job is to protect them from the consequences of their actions as much as possible. As a truck accident victim, you should have your own team of legal professionals, like the truck driver fatigue accident lawyers at Burg Simpson, defending you.

If you were seriously injured or a member of your family was killed in a truck accident due to drowsy driving, call us today to schedule your free initial consultation.

What is Truck Driver Fatigue?

Driver drowsiness, also known as driver fatigue, happens when sleep-deprived drivers continue driving when they should stop to rest. According to research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every 25 drivers over the age of 18 reported nodding off or fully falling asleep behind the wheel in the past month. The study also determined that truck operators are far more likely than the average person to encounter driver drowsiness. Fatigued driving is dangerous for everyone, not just the driver of the truck. Truckers do, however, face a higher risk because of the nature of their lifestyle and their job.

When exhausted truckers traverse America’s interstates and highways, the results can be disastrous. The National Transportation Safety Board reported that about 40% of all trucking accidents are down to insufficient sleep, exhaustion, or driver fatigue.

A publication issued by the American Automobile Association shows that 22% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents involve drowsy drivers. That same publication also states that drivers who slept between six and seven hours had an accident rate that was 1.3 times greater than drivers who received a full night’s sleep (eight to nine hours). Drivers who got between five and six hours of sleep had a crash rate that was 1.9 times greater, drivers who got between four and five hours of sleep had a crash rate that was 4.3 times greater, and drivers who got less than four hours of sleep had a crash rate that was 11.5 times greater.

What Causes Truck Driver Fatigue?

There is no one source of truck driver fatigue. Drivers who are overly tired choose to continue operating their vehicles for a lot of different reasons. Most truck drivers do not take the required number of breaks or they routinely cut them short. They force themselves to continue driving in order to meet tight delivery deadlines or to make it home after days or possibly even weeks of being on the road. Truck drivers are also incentivized to drive longer hours by being offered monetary bonuses.

Commercial truck drivers are often pressured to deliver their payload on schedule even if that schedule is unreasonable. Other drivers might choose to drive additional hours so they can make up for the time they lost caused by traffic jams, road closures, accidents, detours, inclement weather, mandatory rest stops, or just getting lost. Substance and alcohol abuse are also common among commercial truck drivers. Drivers who partake of alcohol or drugs such as opiates, marijuana, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and other depressants before or during their working hours are more prone to experiencing driver fatigue. Also, a lot of commercial truck drivers have health problems, like sleep apnea, that can reduce the quality of their sleep and increase fatigue.

What Are the Symptoms of Drowsy Driving?

In order to identify and avoid drowsy driving, commercial truck drivers should keep an eye out for the symptoms such as:

  • Having a hard time concentrating
  • Repeated and uncontrollable yawning
  • Difficulty keeping their eyes open
  • Blinking more than usual
  • Difficulty recalling and following directions
  • Missing turns or exits
  • Veering into other travel lanes or onto the shoulder
  • Feeling irritable, restless, or tired

Drivers who display these signs need to get off the road and find a safe place to sleep right away.

What if a Drowsy Trucker Continues Driving?

When compared to a tractor-trailer driver who is well-rested, a fatigued driver is more likely to make mistakes that could lead to tragic consequences. Here are some of the ways a truck driver could run into problems when drowsy:

  • Have slow reaction times
  • Nod off at the wheel
  • Crash into signs, mile markers, highway dividers, and other roadside structures
  • Brake incorrectly or apply the brakes too late to avoid an accident
  • Fail to use turn indicators
  • Fail to maintain their lane
  • Fail to merge properly
  • Drive too fast
  • Lack vigilance about deer and wildlife as well as other roadway hazards

A driver experiencing drowsiness needs to be able to recognize that and take appropriate action to get off the road immediately before someone gets hurt. Just like any other motor vehicle accident, those injured in truck driver fatigue accidents often sustain damage to their property, permanent and life-changing injuries, emotional trauma, a physical inability to return to work or maintain gainful employment, unexpected bills, or even death. The decision to keep driving or pull off the road can literally be the difference between life and death.

For more than four decades, the truck driver fatigue accident lawyers at Burg Simpson have been dedicated to the rights of injured victims and their families. If you or a relative were injured in a truck accident, contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

How Can Commercial Truck Drivers Prevent Drowsy Driving?

In order to prevent drowsy driving, commercial truck drivers must always abide by the Hours of Service rules set forth by the FMCSA. They should also take safety precautions such as:

  • Never using prescribed or illegal drugs or alcohol while on the clock.
  • Familiarize themselves with the symptoms of drowsy driving and stop driving immediately if the signs are recognized
  • Avoid consuming caffeine and other over-the-counter stimulants that will briefly conceal the symptoms associated with driver fatigue
  • Report trucking companies that try to threaten or coerce their drivers into using dangerous driving practices by calling the FMCSA’s hotline at 1-888-DOT-SAFT. They are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. You can also file a report via the FMCSA’s National Consumer Complaint Database.

What Types of Accidents are Caused by Truck Driver Fatigue?

When a driver has slowed reaction times, is not obeying traffic lights, is speeding or weaving in and out of traffic, and exhibits other signs of poor judgment, it could easily be a fatigued driver who is about to cause a serious accident.

Driver fatigue can cause numerous types of truck accidents. The ones it most commonly causes are:

  • Rear-end collisions: A rear-end collision occurs when one driver fails to stop in enough time to avoid a collision with the rear end of the car directly in front of them.
  • Vehicle rollovers: Rollovers occur when a vehicle tips onto its side or overturns onto its roof. Rollover accidents can be single-vehicle accidents or they can involve other vehicles.
  • Side-impact accidents: Also known as T-bone crashes, these accidents often take place when a commercial truck crashes into the side of another automobile.

What Should I Do After a Drowsy Driving Truck Accident?

Before your accident occurred, you may have observed signs of insufficient sleep and fatigued driving, including the truck weaving in and out of its lane, speeding up and slowing down for no apparent reason, making reckless lane changes, and more. After the accident takes place, you need to exchange contact details and vehicle information with the truck driver. In doing so, you may notice additional signs of driver fatigue and sleep deprivation, like seeming tired, nodding off, halting speech, general disorientation, mumbling, and other indications of not enough sleep.

If you observe any symptoms of driver fatigue, report them to the responding officer as soon as possible. You should also document what you saw and when you saw it in your own words, as this could be a useful piece of evidence in your trucking accident lawsuit.

Once you are cleared to leave the scene, you need to get in touch with the experienced trucking accident lawyers at Burg Simpson right away. With over forty years of relevant legal experience, we can help establish every factor that contributed to your accident. We can also track down police crash reports, black box data, driver logs, and more. After a serious trucking accident, you are most likely dealing with serious and painful injuries while being inundated with huge medical bills and other damages. Our personal injury lawyers can help you collect financial compensation and get your life back on track.

Talk to the Trucking Accident Lawyers at Burg Simpson Today

After being injured in a commercial trucking accident caused by drowsy or fatigued driving, you will need a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the FMCSA’s Hours of Service rules, as well as numerous other trucking regulations depending on the nature of your accident.

At the law firm of Burg Simpson, we have been protecting the rights of injured trucking accident victims for decades and have recovered millions of dollars for our clients through personal injury claims.

If you were injured due to a truck driver or their employer violating federal trucking regulations, we can help you pursue full and fair financial compensation for your injuries and other damages. To schedule your free and confidential case review, give us a call at (888) 895-2080 or fill out the contact form on our website.
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