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3 Reasons Why Drowsy Driving is Enemy No. 1 to Truck Drivers

A truck driver sleeping while driving.

Tractor trailers are often the largest vehicles on the road and can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. The weight of these trailers makes them especially dangerous in traffic accidents. If you’re involved in a truck accident, the responsible party should be liable for any injuries, damages, pain, and suffering they’ve caused you. In addition, truck accident victims often deal with physical and mental complications from a truck accident for months or even years. That’s why it’s best to have an attorney on your side so you can receive the compensation you deserve.

According to a truck accident attorney in Fort Wayne, IN, drowsy driving is dangerous for everyone on the road, so it’s important to drive alert and without distractions, regardless of the size of your vehicle. When truckers drive drowsy and get into a wreck, the victims often suffer long-term injuries and permanent disabilities.

Depending on the specifics of the accident, your attorney may be able to build a case that holds the truck driver, trucking company, or trucking manufacturer responsible for your injuries and damages. Therefore, it is important to bring as much evidence as possible to your consultation so you and your attorney can start working together to build a significant case for yourself.

As we said, one of the main reasons people are involved in truck accidents is drowsy driving. This is common for truck drivers who have to drive long distances. So let’s discuss drowsy driving and why it is especially dangerous for truck drivers.

What is Drowsy Driving?

Drowsy driving is one of the reasons of truck accidents caused by the driver. Unfortunately, many Americans suffer from sleep deprivation. However, truck drivers are at higher risk for sleep deprivation, which is the main cause of truck accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) asserts that over 100,000 accidents occur because of drowsy driving.

Drowsy driving occurs when truck drivers become sleepy or sluggish while driving. This can cause the trucker to nod off or fall asleep behind the wheel. Surprisingly, over 50% of truckers say they’ve fallen asleep while driving. However, when the driver is tired, they will often behave the same way a drunk driver would.

The dangers of drowsy driving are well known and have been growing for years. Drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. According to AAA, the risk of crashing when driving while tired is the same as that of an impaired driver.

Drowsy driving can include blurry vision, delayed reaction times, and poor judgment. These behaviors can lead to extremely dangerous or fatal traffic accidents.

One NHTSA and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) study involving over 10,000 commercial truck accidents over three years revealed that driver fatigue played a huge role in many trucking collisions, resulting in over 1,650 injuries and around 250 fatalities. In other words, drowsy driving prevention can save lives.

Why Is Drowsy Driving So Dangerous For Truck Drivers?

Truckers often drive fatigued because they are overworked and must deliver their freight by a certain time. Moreover, truck drivers often don’t get enough sleep because they have unconventional work schedules and may have to drive throughout the night.

It is also important to note that some medications can also cause drowsiness. Therefore, truckers taking medication should check with their doctors to ensure the medicine is safe while driving.

Drowsy driving is dangerous for truckers for three main reasons:

1. Slowed Reaction Time

If a truck is getting too close to the car in front of it and doesn’t slow down in time, this can lead to a serious accident, which is more likely to occur if the trucker is dozing off or sleeping.

2. Poor Decision Making

When truckers are drowsy, they may try to speed past yellow lights or make wide turns too quickly, which can cause a collision. Some truckers may also follow smaller cars too closely, which increases the chances of a collision.

3. Blurred Vision

The eye muscles become fatigued when the body is sleepy, and it may be more difficult for truckers to keep their eyes on the road. This can cause blurred or obstructed vision, which increases the chances of a truck accident.

Bottom Line

CDC data show that commercial drivers are the second most likely to fall asleep while driving. The highest risk is for drivers who do not get enough sleep. Drivers who suffer from sleep disorders are fourth on the list. There are regulations on how many hours truck drivers can drive each day and in any given week. During peak times, truck drivers may fall asleep while driving and hit rumble strips or other vehicles. These crashes have tragic results, so it’s crucial to find ways to avoid getting behind the wheel when tired.

Truck drivers need to know their body’s circadian rhythms and the best times to sleep while respecting the HoS rules to avoid falling asleep at the wheel. Taking sleep breaks when needed is one of the most effective ways to increase alertness. Stopping for some air and taking a short walk or playing music while driving can also increase alertness. Most importantly, drivers must manage their time, schedule regular stops, or monitor their activity with new technologies to avoid falling asleep at the wheel.

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