Many people have experienced driver fatigue at some point in their lives, whether it is driving home after a long day at work or traveling on a dark, monotonous roadway after a night out. Your eyelids feel heavy, and your head starts nodding down. Even a single moment of dozing off, however, has the potential to cause significant harm to surrounding motorists and pedestrians. Fatigued drivers are three times more likely to be in a collision.
Driver fatigue is among the most common causes of truck accidents in the Chicago area and other parts of Illinois. In some cases, fatigued or drowsy driving is the sole cause of a truck accident. In others, multiple contributing factors may be involved. For example, drowsy driving combined with road hazards or improperly loaded cargo may be responsible for causing a crash.
Drowsy driving reduces a person’s ability to concentrate on the road and hampers judgment. It also slows down reaction time, reduces alertness, impairs vision and decreases awareness of one’s surroundings. Fatigued truck drivers may fail to brake or swerve to avoid a collision.
Around one in 25 motorists have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While fatigued or drowsy driving can be challenging to identify, some telltale signs include erratic driving, speeding or drifting between lanes.
Falling asleep behind the wheel is not the only dangerous outcome of driver fatigue. Sleepy drivers are more prone to errors and poor decision-making. Any impairments to one’s driving abilities can result in a serious accident. Studies have shown that the effects of driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep are similar to those of driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent.
The danger is heightened when the drowsy driver is operating a large vehicle like a commercial truck. The large size and mass of semi-trucks have the potential to cause devasting injuries to collision victims.
Truck drivers travel thousands of miles a week to earn a living. Working long hours is a common practice in the trucking industry. Commercial truck drivers often face demanding schedules that can put them at an increased risk of experiencing driver fatigue. There is often employer pressure to meet certain delivery targets within a set timeframe.
Work requirements can mean professional truck drivers end up driving at night during what are typically considered sleeping hours. They may continue driving long distances without breaks even though fatigue has set in. Spending consecutive hours on the road without any breaks can be dangerous. A lack of adequate rest and sleep can lead to a truck driver losing control of their vehicle and causing a crash.
Federal safety regulations limit the number of hours a commercial truck driver can drive. However, employers sometimes fail to enforce these rules, and truck drivers who are pressured to make deliveries may ignore them.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truckers may drive a maximum of 11 hours after spending 10 consecutive hours off duty. Drivers are barred from driving after 60/70 hours in seven or eight consecutive days. They are required to keep logs of their on-duty driving hours to ensure compliance with trucking regulations.
Fatigued or drowsy driving is a form of negligence that can cause serious truck accidents in which victims suffer painful and even catastrophic injuries. When a truck driver or employer violates safety regulations, they may be liable for the crash victim’s injuries.
If you were injured in a truck accident, a personal injury lawyer can help you understand your rights about pursuing compensation from the negligent parties who caused your crash. Investigating your truck accident will help uncover who was responsible for your injuries, which can be multiple parties in some cases. A fatigued or drowsy truck driver may be liable, as well as their employer or trucking company who forced employees to drive long hours without breaks.
Contact the experienced Chicago truck accident attorneys at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg to discuss your truck accident claim. We are dedicated to helping clients obtain the compensation they deserve for medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress and other costs. Schedule a free initial consultation to learn more.