We all know how many semi-trucks are on the road these days. Driving long hours is just part of the job, right? The problem is that many of these truck drivers are driving too long hours just to finish the job in time. Truck driver fatigue is a huge issue facing truck drivers and our increasingly busy roads and highways.
Are deadlines the only thing keeping truck drivers on the road for longer than they should be? If someone is hurt or killed because of truck driver fatigue, who is held responsible? Is it the driver or the trucking company? Let’s find out!
How Dangerous Is Driver Fatigue?
It doesn’t matter if you’re driving an 18-wheeler truck or a small car, driving fatigued can be disastrous. Not only can you fall asleep at the wheel, but your reaction time is much longer when you are tired. In fact, some even compare driving fatigued with driving under the influence.
Many times, to make matters worse, truck drivers take stimulant drugs or drink substances to help them stay awake so that they can drive longer than normal. The problem is that these kinds of things can affect them differently than intended, making the driver even more tired.
Even if it doesn’t affect them differently, people crash hard once these drugs or other substances have worn off. The chances of being involved in a severe accident when you are feeling this way are substantially increased.
Risks of Driving Fatigued
Being involved in an accident or causing others to be in an accident can happen quickly when you are not alert and unable to concentrate on the road. Some of the risks of driving fatigued can include:
- Drifting into other lanes of traffic and accidentally hitting other vehicles.
- Swerving off the road.
- Drifting off the road and then over-correcting and striking other vehicles or rolling your vehicle.
- Failing to yield to other drivers when appropriate.
- Not stopping fast enough and hitting other vehicles.
- Slowly wandering into oncoming traffic.
What Are Possible Causes of Truck Driver Fatigue?
When a driver is mentally or physically exerted to a state where they cannot perform their driving duties properly because of working too long, too hard, or other factors, it can be incredibly scary and dangerous.
Some factors that cause truck drivers to drive fatigued include:
Meeting Deadlines – Often, truck driver fatigue happens because the driver is encouraged/demanded that they meet a certain deadline that could not be reached without driving longer than is allowed by law. Sometimes trucking companies offer bonuses or other compensation for getting cargo delivered ahead of schedule.
Sleep Apnea – When someone has sleep apnea, they stop breathing temporarily while they sleep. Their body wakes them up to start breathing again, but when this happens dozens of times a night, you can imagine why people with this condition are tired and have impaired driving.
Medications or Other Medical Conditions – Different medications that drivers can be taking could cause sleepiness and other medical conditions.
No matter what is affecting the driver, driving with full energy and attention is paramount to protect themselves and other drivers on the road.
Common Trucking Accident Injuries
While truck drivers do often experience injuries from accidents, the truth is those driving smaller vehicles like cars, or even pickup trucks are the ones who sustain the worst injuries. These injuries can be incredibly serious or fatal. Just think about the force of impact when a car crashes with a large semi-truck. Individuals can easily get thrown around inside (or outside) their vehicle, especially if a seatbelt isn’t worn. All kinds of injuries can occur from whiplash alone. If drivers or passengers hit things inside their car (windows, seats, other passengers, steering wheel, etc.), they can be seriously injured, especially if their head receives the trauma.
Accident injuries may consist of:
- Broken bones
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord or other back injuries
- Soft tissue damage
- Internal injuries
These of course don’t include the mental stress and trauma that one goes through after an accident. A crash is often a horrible ordeal that can cause distress for years to come. This kind of suffering should be addressed just as a physical injury would be tended to. Mental stress and pain can change someone’s life forever.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Truck Driver Fatigue?
If you are involved in an accident due to truck driver fatigue, there may be more than just the driver at fault. You can file a lawsuit against the truck driver for driving when he shouldn’t have been. You can also file a lawsuit against the truck driver’s employer. If the trucking company demanded the driver to work longer hours than what is legally allowed, they could be held liable for the accident and the resulting damages.
This is where it can be extremely helpful to have an attorney that has experience in trucking lawsuits. They can help you with any potentially liable parties that could be involved in your lawsuit. Your attorney will be able to do their homework and come up with the proof you need for a strong case.
Obtaining Compensation for Your Injuries
In order to obtain compensation for the injuries you’ve experienced from a truck accident, you must prove that:
- The truck driver was at fault or did something that caused the accident. If you believe truck driver fatigue was to blame, you must prove that was the case.
- Your injuries were suffered from the accident or because of the accident.
To obtain the compensation you deserve from a truck accident, you need an attorney with experience battling large trucking companies. This knowledge will be vital to a successful lawsuit.
The attorneys at Wormington & Bollinger know how legal cases with large trucking companies work and are equipped to handle all that needs to be done on your behalf. If you believe your injuries were incurred because of truck driver fatigue, give Wormington & Bollinger a call today.