Drowsy driving is a common factor in truck accidents. Truck drivers work long hours and generally work alone, putting them at significant risk of fatigue while behind the wheel. Monotonous activity, such as driving, can make drivers more prone to fatigue. Understanding the causes of drowsy driving, how it causes accidents, and what we can do to make the roads safer can go a long way in reducing accident rates.
Understanding the Impact of Drowsy Driving on Accident Rates
When you consider the multitude of ways fatigue impacts your cognitive performance, it is obvious why drowsy driving leads to more accidents. Fatigue negatively affects a truck driver’s alertness, reaction time, and decision-making abilities. This can lead to delayed responses when an unexpected obstacle is on the road or lead a driver to make a bad judgment call when they have to decide how to avoid a crash. These errors are almost entirely preventable.
Tired truck drivers are more prone to falling asleep at the wheel or experiencing momentary lapses in attention. These are major errors that dramatically increase the likelihood of a crash. Since truck accidents are already more likely to be severe than passenger vehicle collisions, this type of error can be fatal.
Factors Contributing to Drowsy Driving in the Trucking Industry
Several factors within the trucking industry contribute to the prevalence of drowsy driving among truck drivers. These factors include long and demanding work schedules. Truck drivers often face unreasonable schedules that involve long hours of driving, irregular shift patterns, and tight delivery deadlines. These factors can lead to inadequate sleep and force them back behind the wheel before they’re ready. Unfortunately, this type of change must come from within the trucking industry—employers must be held accountable when they force drivers to put in more hours than they can safely manage.
The trucking industry operates in a fast-paced environment where meeting delivery deadlines is crucial. Companies often put this pressure on drivers, rather than hiring enough drivers to meet deadlines safely. This pressure can push truck drivers to sacrifice sleep, choosing instead to drive for extended periods without adequate rest. Fatigued driving is nearly inevitable in this situation.
Consequences of Drowsy Driving in Trucking Accidents
Drowsy driving in the trucking industry can have severe consequences. It impacts the safety of the driver, other motorists, and the company they work for. Consider this: fatigued driving generally leads to more severe accidents. Trucking accidents involving drowsy driving tend to be more severe due to the size and weight of commercial vehicles.
High-speed collisions caused by drowsy driving can result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities. When a driver is awake and causes an accident, they at least have the chance to try to take evasive action and minimize the damage. A sleeping driver has no such opportunity.
Trucking accidents caused by drowsy driving can lead to significant legal and financial consequences. Trucking companies and drivers may face personal injury claims, legal penalties, increased insurance premiums, and damage to their professional reputation.
Limiting Drowsy Driving Risks and Enhancing Safety
There’s a lot that can be done by drivers, legislators, and company owners to make trucking safer. Some professionals have recommended even stricter regulations on hours of service and required rest periods, while others suggest enhanced education and training that informs drivers of the severe risks of drowsy driving.
Technology is one way to make drowsy driving less common. Some cars come with built-in eye detection that sounds an alarm when a driver’s eyes are averted away from the road or close completely. This type of technology in trucks could be lifesaving.
While some approaches focus on training and educating drivers, others put the onus on company owners. By citing company owners when they force truck drivers to work under unsafe conditions or while fatigued, experts suggest that we may see far fewer fatigued drivers on the road.
Have you been injured in a truck accident? You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses and other losses. Let’s sit down and talk about your options now. Set up a time to talk to the team at Kingbird Legal at our West Chester office. You can reach us online or at 484-289-4880.