It’s not something most truck drivers like to discuss: sleepy driving. They earn their livings based on the timeliness of their deliveries, whether it’s across town or cross-country. Still, they are human, and they too need sleep. For some, unfortunately, they think they can power forward on not enough sleep, often resulting in truck accidents.
The statistics tell the tale. Drowsy driving is the one of the leading causes of deadly accidents on the nation’s highways. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2013, drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths. However, these numbers are underestimated and up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers.
By The Numbers
In 2013, new federal rules reduced the maximum trucker workweek from 82 hours to 70 hours. Once a trucker hits this 70-hour limit, he or she must take a 34-hour resting period before he or she can get behind the wheel again. Not only that, but the law also requires at least two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. to allow truck drivers to rest. This required period must be observed at least two nights a week and any driver who’s driven for 11 hours straight must take a 30-minute break.
Some of these changes are not popular, since they can affect a person’s paycheck. That’s understandable, but the laws are designed to ensure safety, not salary. Those who disagree with the government attempting to regulate sleep argue there are more drivers on the road, thereby, it stands to reason there would be more accidents. Still, there’s something to be said about the number of accidents that have been definitively linked to a commercial truck driver’s fatigue and lack of sleep.
The CDC notes that even a 15 or 20-minute nap can make a big difference. If you are yawning, can’t remember the past few miles, if you have missed your exit, are drifting from your lane or have hit a rumble strip, there is a good chance you are a drowsy driver and should consider pulling off where it is safe and take a rest. Do not assume you can make it another 50 or 100 miles. Err on the side of caution. It is a decision you won’t regret.
If that is not enough, consider another study conducted by Harvard School of Medicine. Their Sleep Medicine Division found that nearly one-quarter million people fall asleep every day while they are driving. More than half of those people say they knew they were too tired to drive. As we know, some of those bad choices have resulted in devastating accidents. The study found that in some instances, people with significant sleep deprivation are as unable to drive safely as one under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you have been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, consider reaching out to a truck accident attorney. Our truck accident lawyers can help navigate your next move, answer your questions and better protect your future.