Learn about 4 risk factors that make truckers more likely to drive while drowsy
According to the Department of Transportation, about 15 percent of truck accidents can be linked to fatigue. When drivers are tired, their reaction times slow down and it becomes difficult to focus on the road. In a worst case scenario, they might actually fall asleep behind the wheel.
Drowsy driving is a particularly big risk for truck drivers because they have to contend with:
- Night Driving: The human body is designed to sleep at night. It’s particularly hard to stay awake and alert between the hours of 1 am and 5 am. Long-haul truckers often have no choice but to continue driving during these hours in order to get to their destinations on time.
- Irregular Sleep Schedules: Truckers often have very irregular sleep schedules that prevent them from logging a full 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every 24 hours. For example, a trucker might have to get up at 2 am to go pick up a load. Once there, they may wait for hours before their truck is actually read to hit the road. Maybe they can catch a few winks while they wait, maybe not. Then, they may have to drive for up to eight hours with just one 30-minute break. Research from the National Sleep Foundation shows that workers who do not have regular daytime schedules are more likely to drive while drowsy.
- Employer Pressure: Federal law sets up detailed hours of service rules governing how long truckers can drive before they rest, and how long and at what times these rest periods need to be. However, truckers are often under pressure to violate the hours of service in order to meet critical pick up and delivery deadlines. This can result in drivers exceeding their maximum of 70 work hours per week or failing to get appropriate rest.
- Sleep Apnea: According to research from the University of Pennsylvania, nearly a third of commercial truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea. This may be because obesity is a risk factor for sleep apnea, and the sedentary lifestyle of a trucker makes drivers prone to being overweight. Sleep apnea is considered a risk factor for drowsy driving accidents because it disrupts sufferers’ sleep, leaving them groggy and fatigued. Truckers are supposed to get sleep apnea treatment in order to continue driving.
What to Do If You Are Injured in a Truck Accident
If you have been involved in an accident caused by a truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel or who was simply too tired to react in time to avoid a collision, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer from The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker today.