One of the biggest challenges in the trucking industry is time. Clients want their goods delivered as soon as possible, but truck drivers must follow local speed limits when covering the hundreds or thousands of miles until their destination. For many truckers — and especially their employers — the answer is to drive as many hours per day as possible. Trucking companies can even pressure their drivers to go through the night instead of sleeping.
Common effects of drowsy truck driving
But as we all know, people need to sleep to drive safely. Fatigued driving dulls the senses, impairs judgment and stretches out reaction times. When a sleep-deprived driver is behind the wheel of a huge semi, the potential danger of serious injury and death to others on the road is even higher. If you are ever caught in the path of an out-of-control 18-wheeler, you would have a much harder time getting out of the way in just a few seconds than if you were confronting a passenger vehicle.
Federal regulations try to force trucking companies and their drivers to take rest breaks. Still, the law permits up to 11 consecutive hours on the road, as long as the driver has spent at least 10 hours out of their cabs. Depending on what the driver does with that time, they still might not get enough sleep to recover from their previous shift.
The driver may not be the only party responsible
A truck accident involving a possibly fatigued truck driver needs to be closely investigated. Evidence might show that not only was the driver too sleepy to drive safely but that their employer was indirectly responsible. For example, the trucking company might have pressured the driver into spending too many hours on the road. Or it might have failed to properly instruct the driver on the regulations and need for regular sleep.
But as the victim of a truck crash, you probably will not know why your injuries happened until your personal injury attorney investigates.