Asleep at the Wheel – Dangers of Fatigued Truck Drivers

Asleep at the Wheel – Dangers of Fatigued Truck Drivers

From the heart of Atlanta to the back roads of rural Alabama, commercial trucks are a common sight. While these commercial trucks and 18-wheelers are critical to our economy, in the rush to meet deadlines and ensure our shelves are stocked with the goods we need and desire, a silent peril lurks—driver fatigue.

Driver fatigue is not a phenomenon exclusive to the commercial trucking industry. Nearly everyone who has operated a vehicle can attest to the effects fatigue has on one’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Fatigue affects reaction times, impairs judgment, and can lead to a loss of concentration. The causes of fatigue for commercial vehicle operators are numerous and include long hours behind the wheel, inadequate rest, and the monotonous nature of driving long distances.

Recent studies shed light on the magnitude of this issue. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving is responsible for more than 72,000 crashes and 800 deaths annually in the United States. However, these numbers only scratch the surface, as many incidents go unreported or are not attributed to fatigue.

In the realm of commercial trucking, the figures are equally concerning. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that nearly 13% of commercial motor vehicle drivers were considered to be fatigued at the time of their crash. This statistic is alarming, considering the potential for catastrophic outcomes when a several-ton vehicle is involved. Perhaps more troubling, studies sponsored by the FMCSA reveal that approximately 65% of commercial truck drivers report they often feel fatigued or drowsy while operating a vehicle while nearly 50% of those interviewed admitted they had actually fallen asleep at the wheel.

Thankfully, in the context of proving driver fatigue, technology is playing a pivotal role. Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), dash cams, and fatigue-monitoring systems provide crucial data, offering insights into a driver’s behavior and compliance with Hours-of-Service regulations before a collision. This evidence can demonstrate signs of fatigue, such as prolonged driving without rest or ignored drowsiness alerts, establishing driver negligence.

Behind these statistics and rules are stories of individuals and families whose lives have been forever changed by catastrophic collisions. Fatigue-related accidents caused by commercial vehicle drivers can result in severe injuries, life-long disabilities, and, tragically, loss of life. At Bodewell Injury Group, our attorneys are experienced in holding commercial trucking companies and their drivers accountable for fatigued driving. If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision with a commercial vehicle, call the attorneys at Bodewell Injury Group. We’re ready to tell your story.

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