Many drivers consider trucks to be among the more serious hazards they can encounter on the highway. This is for good reason: a truck that goes out of control can cause immense damage due to its size, weight and occasionally flammable cargo. Trucks are harder to manage on wet or icy road surfaces, and their large blind spots can cause drivers to overlook cars behind them when turning or changing lanes.
Effects of driver fatigue
Fatigue is a major cause of truck collisions throughout the United States. Fatigue has several adverse effects on a person, including drowsiness, dulled reflexes and brain fog. A fatigued driver can literally begin falling asleep at the wheel in a truck that is barreling along the highway at a high speed. A driver suffering from lack of sleep may fail to notice a stopped vehicle ahead, even with flashing lights from police and emergency vehicles. Drowsiness often causes drivers to overlook obstacles in the road or to fail to react appropriately to bad weather conditions.
Fatigue in commercial truck drivers
For several reasons, truck drivers are statistically likelier to be at the wheel while fatigued than non-commercial drivers. Drivin g a commercial vehicle in itself is both an exhausting and a sedentary occupation. While there are laws on the books regulating rest periods for truckers and limiting the amount of hours driven per week, these often prove insufficient in decreasing fatigue, even when actually adhered to. Many drivers are not able to get sleep at night, which is naturally a period that provides a more restful quality of sleep. Another major cause of drowsiness is sleep apnea, which prevents sufferers from becoming rested even after a long period of sleep. Drivers with sleep apnea are significantly prone to falling asleep even during a period of activity.
Work pressure is a major reason why truck drivers do not get enough sleep. Some may falsify driving logs in order to make it on time for their delivery or pick-up window. While a driver’s schedule on paper may allow him or her to meet deadlines while taking adequate rest breaks, in practice outside factors such as traffic delays and bad weather can have the driver racing non-stop just to be on time.
When a truck is involved, collisions are far more likely to have serious consequences. Many crashes are caused by truck drivers who are excessively fatigued and potentially in violation of safety laws and regulations. If you or a loved one have suffered from a truck collision, it is a good idea to consult a knowledgeable attorney to find out more about available recourse.