An estimated 100,000 car accidents are caused by driver fatigue or drowsy driving, the GTG Technology Group reports. Commercial truck drivers make up one group of drivers, in particular, that has been singled out as being at particular risk.
The federal government reduced the maximum number of hours a truck driver could work in a week from 82 to 70 hours in 2013. Under the revised Hours of Service (HOS) rules, a driver is required to take a mandatory 34-hour rest period that includes two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. to get two nights of sleep before beginning another workweek. Truck drivers are also required to have a 30-minute break in their schedule and are prohibited from driving more than 11 hours a day.
Despite all these regulations, far too many truckers stay out on the road too long and drive while overly fatigued or drowsy.
Truck drivers are responsible for operating vehicles that can weigh as much as 30 times more than a car, and they are putting themselves and others at serious risk when they do not get enough rest. While truck drivers often feel pressured to drive as much and as often as possible so they can maximize their earnings, there can be devastating consequences when a trucker keeps driving when they are too tired to remain alert.
If you suffered severe injuries or your loved one was killed in a truck accident caused by a drowsy driver, contact an attorney right away to discuss your rights. You could be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses, wages from time missed from work, pain and suffering, and replacement of your property, among other damages.
Spiva Law Group has obtained over $200 million for our clients. You can have our firm help you understand all of your legal options when you call (912) 244-6438 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Why Are Truckers Driving Fatigued?
Time is money to truck drivers, and so they need to be on the road to earn their paycheck. There’s a saying that “if the wheels aren’t turning, you aren’t earning.” The extreme distances that they travel, which can be cross-country journeys, can mean long hours, extensive time away from home, lack of exercise, and poor nutrition, for many drivers.
The Sleep Help Institute notes that sleep apnea is a common issue among truck drivers because 38.6 percent of truck drivers have obesity issues. Over-the-counter drugs, prescription medication, and illegal drug use are also dangerous behaviors among truck drivers that can contribute to fatigue.
Even when truck drivers do try to sleep in the sleep berths attached to their cabs, the time spent sleeping may be uncomfortable. The Sleep Help Institute said truck drivers who attempt to drive late at night are more likely to have accidents within an hour of waking up from sleeper berth naps. However, many truckers prefer to drive overnight when traffic is lighter.
How to Prevent Drowsy Driving in Georgia
All drivers should try to make sure that they get a full night’s sleep before getting behind the wheel, preferably seven to eight hours. Drivers should also try to avoid driving late at night when possible.
If you have passengers, try to share driving duties. On longer drives, do not hesitate to pull over and take a nap at a rest area.
The Dangers Tired Truckers Pose in Georgia
The New York Times reported that 30,000 are killed on highways in the United States every year, and truck accidents account for 1 in 7 of those deaths. The Large-Truck Crash Causation Study from the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that driver fatigue accounted for 13 percent of all trucking accidents.
Fatigued drivers are at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. A truck driver who dozes off could veer into another lane or the driver may lose control of the vehicle if they awaken suddenly. A driver who nods off could slam into stopped or slow traffic without even braking.
Even when a driver does not fall asleep, their reactions can still be critically delayed in some cases. Fatigue may lead to a driver not braking in time, but it could also be a factor in a driver not recognizing that they are speeding or weaving between lanes, for example.
Proving Driver Fatigue in an Accident in Georgia
The truck driver’s logbook is one of the first things an attorney will want to look at in a truck accident potentially involving fatigue. An HOS log is required by federal law, and the logbook entries could be evidence that a driver did not have enough rest time before driving.
You need to get a lawyer as soon as possible because trucking companies and their insurers are always looking for ways to minimize their liability in these cases. Trucking companies are only required to maintain certain records for limited amounts of time, so they can legally destroy valuable evidence in some cases after these periods have passed.
Keep in mind that logbooks are not always accurate. Some drivers operate in violation of federal law and falsify entries in logbooks. An experienced attorney will know how to identify certain red flags in logbooks, such as instances of large numbers of miles being covered in very short periods of time.
How Can Spiva Law Group Help Me?
Fatigued driving is negligent driving. The Savannah truck accident lawyers of Spiva Law Group fight to protect individuals who are harmed by negligent truckers and the companies that fail to train and supervise them. If you have been hurt, we’re here to help make things right.
Our firm has recovered $1 million for a client injured by a tractor-trailer driver with a bad record, as well as $1 million for a client injured by an unqualified tractor-trailer driver. Howard Spiva was named a member of the Legal Elite by Georgia Trend Magazine in 2012, was named a 2011 Home Town Hero by WTOC-TV, received a Community Service Award from the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association in 2011, and won the 2011 Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service from the State Bar of Georgia.
Our firm has been fighting for injury victims since 1984. Call us or contact us online now to receive a free consultation.