Truck drivers have some of the most demanding, difficult, and dangerous jobs in the United States. Anyone who’s taken a road trip knows that putting in long hours over the road can be exhausting. However, it is not unfair to expect transportation professionals to ensure they are sufficiently alert to avoid an accident.
Unfortunately, drowsiness plays a role in over 10% of all truck-related accidents. If you were hurt by an irresponsible, drowsy driver, you should not have to settle for minimal compensation.
Here’s what you need to know about drowsy truck driver accidents.
Why Truckers May Be Tired
Truck drivers are trained transportation professionals, but they are still people. A bad night’s rest can lead a driver to feel anxious, distracted, and inattentive. Research commissioned by the federal government has shown that drowsy driving can, in some instances, be just as dangerous as drunk driving—a real problem for commercial drivers, who are often behind the wheel of multi-ton vehicles and heavy cargo.
However, truck drivers face additional pressures and stresses that can lead to a lack of sleep, including:
- Work schedules. Truck drivers are expected to spend weeks over the road; many only go home to rest and recuperate once or twice each month.
- Sleeping conditions. While truckers may sometimes splurge on roadside motels, most take rest in small bunks inside their vehicle’s own cab. Loud noises, bright lights, and uncomfortable mattresses can make it difficult to get the right amount of rest.
- Mental state. Never-ending highways can take a mental toll. Truck drivers are especially susceptible to a phenomenon known as “highway hypnosis,” wherein a driver may remain awake but has brain patterns closely resembling someone who is in a light sleep. A zoned-out truck driver is a dangerous truck driver.
- Employers. Most truck drivers either work for large companies or contract with logistics dispatchers. Since drivers are often paid by the load or by the mile, there can be intense pressure to cover as much distance as possible each and every day. Even though drivers are supposed to take federally mandated breaks and rest days, their boss may pressure them to bend the rules and bolster profits.
The Dangers of Drowsy Driving
You already know that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving.
However, tired truckers present an additional risk. Since commercial vehicles are so large, any collision involving one has the potential to be catastrophic. A simple error, miscalculation, or lapse in judgment—even one that could be easily corrected—becomes all the more dangerous when a driver lacks the alertness to avoid an unexpected obstacle.
Common Injuries Caused By Drowsy Truck Drivers
Drowsy-driving truck accidents in California often have disastrous outcomes. Common injuries and consequences include but are not limited to:
- Broken bones
- Spinal fractures
- Brain damage
- Organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Partial- or full-body paralysis
A drowsy-driving truck accident can be life-changing; the resulting injuries may require years or even decades of intensive medical care to correct or alleviate.
How to Find Out If a Drowsy Truck Driver Caused Your Accident
You may not know how to react after a truck accident—in many cases, you may be physically incapable of taking swift action, let alone conducting an independent investigation.
Even if you are able to walk away from the scene of a crash visibly unscathed, taking legal action against a transportation company can be unexpectedly difficult. While you may consider filing a personal injury lawsuit against the driver, it is possible that employer misconduct or a manufacturing defect contributed to your accident or injuries.
A personal injury attorney can help you conduct a thorough investigation and determine fault by:
- Investigating the scene of the accident
- Collecting evidence of your injuries by requisitioning and analyzing medical records and hospital orders
- Checking the driver’s hours-of-service records and accident history
- Determining whether the driver’s employer has a history of safety violations, regulatory non-compliance, or improper maintenance upkeep
- Seeing if mechanical parts failure contributed to the accident, and, if so, whether the manufacturer may be liable
Contact an Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has been hurt—or worse—by a tired California truck driver, send Case Barnett Law a message today.