It is well-documented that the number of hours a truck driver drives and the number of rest breaks he or she takes will affect his or her safety on the road. Fatigue among truck drivers has been noted as a major factor in truck accidents. Truck drivers can be fatigued at any time while they are on the road. Yet, due to the lengthy nature of many of their shipping routes, the National Sleep Foundation notes that commercial drivers are more likely to be tired behind the wheel. Many truck drivers operate through the night, increasing the likelihood that they will be sleepy. Texas’s strategic location makes it a prime shipping route between the U.S. and Mexico, and for truck drivers shipping goods from the east to the west coast. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, Texas roadways of the future will be designed with commerce in mind. This means more trucks on the road. More trucks on the road means an increased risk of accidents for Texas citizens.
The National Sleep Foundation also reports that commercial drivers, shift workers, and people with sleep disorders are most at risk for drowsy driving. It has been found that commercial drivers are more prone to sleep disorders than people in the general population.
Drowsy driving has a major impact on the safety of the general public. According to the Centers for Disease Control, sleepiness behind the wheel can make drivers less aware of the task at hand, can slow down a driver’s reaction time, and can affect decision-making. As many as anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 accidents every year occur due to drowsy driving. The CDC also notes that 18 hours awake without sleep results in the same kind of cognitive difficulties as having a 0.05 blood alcohol level. Even when adults don’t fall asleep behind the wheel, their decision-making can be significantly affected by not sleeping. And as many as 150,000 adults have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel in the last thirty days.
When truck drivers don’t get adequate sleep, the results can be catastrophic. Victims may suffer life-changing disability, have to miss time at work, or live for years with severe pain and suffering. Commercial drivers and the companies who hire them have a serious responsibility to other cars on the road to ensure that their drivers are well-rested. Federal regulations require drivers to take regular breaks. However, when drivers fail to adhere to these standards, accidents happen. Families who have been affected by drowsy driving that resulted in a truck accident have the right to seek compensation from negligent parties. When companies don’t adhere to their responsibilities, truck accident lawyers like The Cooper Law Firm often step in to help families get the justice they deserve.
While the law has protections in place to ensure that families affected by truck accidents receive compensation, prevention is always best. Researchers writing for the Journal of Safety Research studied the times when truck drivers were more prone to have accidents. The results of the study found that drivers who were on the eleventh hour of their shift were more likely to be involved in driving incidents.
The researchers also found that truck drivers who took rest breaks were less likely to crash. After one rest break, a truck driver’s accident odds decreased by 68%. When drivers took two breaks, the odds of an accident decreased by 83%, and when drivers took three rest breaks, the odds decreased by 85%. The study also found that drivers sometimes needed time to adjust before driving after a rest break. Sleeping and then trying to get behind the wheel immediately afterward isn’t always the best idea.
The hope is that policymakers will implement laws and regulations requiring drivers to take more rest breaks. Because drivers often perform shift work, it is not really possible to pinpoint a specific hour of the day or night when truck accidents are likely to occur. More drivers are may be fatigued during nighttime driving, however.
When truck accidents take place, it can be difficult to determine what factors caused the accident. Determining driver fatigue often requires expert research. Personal injury lawyers who specialize in truck accidents are often skilled in looking closely at driver’s logbooks and other documentation of a truck driver’s travels to determine whether the driver was operating within Federal guidelines and to determine whether the driver was fatigued. Individuals who have been affected by truck accidents in Texas are wise to consult a personal injury attorney to ensure that their rights are protected. For legal representation regarding a case in Texas, visit cooper-law-firm.com.