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How Truck Driver Fatigue Causes Accidents

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 1 in 25 adult drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel within the last 30 days, or about 4% of all drivers. Among truck drivers, those numbers may be a lot higher: In a landmark 2007 study, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that fatigue played a role in over 13% of all large truck and commercial vehicle crashes.

Given that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports at least 795 deaths from drowsy driving each year, truck drivers and their employers need to be vigilant about preventing driver fatigue. Unfortunately, commercial truck companies often push their drivers to meet unrealistic deadlines and violate federal hours of service regulations. This may result in driver fatigue – and ultimately lead to a serious, and potentially fatal, truck accident.

The Role of Trucking Companies in Driver Fatigue

With the rise of e-commerce, the demand for faster truck delivery services has increased across the globe. That demand quickly outpaced the size of the trucking workforce, and as a result, the trucking industry is now experiencing a major driver shortage. According to the American Trucking Associations, the shortage increased from 10,000 to 60,800 between 2017 and 2018, and policy experts are predicting that over 160,000 driver positions will be unfilled by the end of the decade.

This driver shortage has put a significant strain on the trucking carrier companies. In turn, the companies may push their drivers into “drowsy driving” so they can meet increasingly strict deadlines. This pressure ranges in severity across the industry, with some drivers facing more extreme forms of abuse. In a 2017 USA Today investigation, reporters uncovered that many port trucking companies use coercion tactics and threats of termination to keep their drivers in line.

Here are a few of the ways some unethical trucking companies cause driver fatigue:

  • Pressuring drivers to break the law and drive for more than 11 hours each day
  • Forcing drivers to falsify their truck driver logs
  • Threatening termination or retaliation if drivers do not meet deadlines
  • Pushing drivers to ignore maintenance checkpoints and falsify inspections
  • Charging drivers with unnecessary fees to keep them in debt

The Cost of Drowsy Driving 

Even when truck driver fatigue is not caused by corporate pressure tactics, it can still have consequences for other drivers on the road. Commercial motor vehicles like tractor-trailers take a long time to slow down on the highway – so even a moment of driver drowsiness or inattentiveness may be fatal to passenger car drivers. In addition to causing hundreds of deaths, it’s estimated that drowsy driving injures 44,000 people each year.

In a truck accident with a drowsy driver, you may sustain the following serious injuries:

  • Amputation and disfigurement
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Internal injuries and organ collapse
  • Broken bones and lacerations
  • Back and neck injuries

Who Is Responsible for Truck Accident Injuries?

After a major truck accident, you should consider discussing your case with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you determine liability. If the trucking company shares a portion of the blame for your accident, they could be legally responsible to help pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional trauma. At Simeone & Miller, LLP, we’ve recovered over $100 million for our clients, and we have the real courtroom experience you may need in a serious truck accident case.

Call (202) 888-0872 today to schedule a free consultation with our team.