Sleep Deprivation and Fatigue in Semi Truck Crashes
While there are many causes for auto accidents, sleep deprivation is one of the more common ones. In fact, drowsy driving leads to thousands of crashes each year. This has become a serious problem for truck drivers in particular since their jobs require them to work for long hours on the road, day after day.
Simply put, drowsy driving is dangerous. Our bodies require sleep and when we do not get adequate sleep, we are less alert on the road and more likely to cause an accident. If you or a loved one has been involved in a semi truck accident, contact a truck accident lawyer at the Capaz Law firm now. We will review your case to determine whether sleep deprivation was a factor and whether to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for your injuries.
Common Characteristics of Crashes Caused by Drowsy Driving
Unlike the convenience of breathalyzer tests which instantly measure blood alcohol content, there is no way to measure a driver’s level of drowsiness. There are, however, some tell-tale signs that a crash was caused by sleep deprivation.
According to Drowsy Driving and Automobile Crashes, a report by the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the following characteristics are common in sleep deprivation–related crashes:
- A single vehicle left the road
- The crash is usually serious
- The driver did not attempt to avoid a crash
- The driver was alone in the vehicle
- The crash occurred late night/early morning, or mid-afternoon
- The crash occurred on a high-speed road
Common Reasons for Drowsy Driving
The very nature of a truck driver’s profession can lead to driving while overtired. To address this problem, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established specific guidelines regarding the number of hours they may drive. The 14-hour duty limit, for example, requires that drivers only remain on duty for 14 consecutive hours. Once this maximum is met, the driver must go off duty for 10 consecutive hours. Furthermore, only 11 of the 14 hours can be spent driving. While these and additional regulations are designed to limit a driver’s hours on the road and improve road safety, these regulations are routinely violated.
However, even if drivers obey these regulations, they may be more tired than they realize. Semi truck drivers regularly consume coffee, energy drinks or other supplements, believing that with enough consumption they can stave off fatigue. Unfortunately though, nothing can replace sleep. Eventually, our bodies can no longer stay awake no matter how hard we fight it. In fact, an exhausted driver may fall asleep involuntarily for a few seconds, called a micro-sleep, without even realizing it.
Another complicating factor is the adrenaline effect. After an accident, our bodies become flooded with adrenaline. Therefore, a driver may become very alert after an accident, even if he was very drowsy at the time of the crash. This makes it more complicated to prove that an accident was caused by sleep deprivation and may cause some drivers not to accept that they were too tired to be driving in the first place.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer in Tampa
If you or a loved one has been in a truck accident in Tampa, contact the Capaz Law firm to speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer today. We will thoroughly investigate your accident to determine the cause and who was at fault. We will also work aggressively to hold the responsible party accountable and seek compensation for any injuries you may have suffered due to the negligence of a fatigued driver. Contact us to schedule your free consultation today.