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Miami Truck Accident Attorneys: Fatigued Truck Drivers

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Miami Truck Accident Attorneys - Fatigued Truck Drivers - Personal Injury Lawyer

Miami Truck Accident Attorneys: Fatigued Truck Drivers

Driver Fatigue Among Truckers is a Major Traffic Hazard


Truck drivers spend a lot of time behind the wheel. Federal regulations , known as “Hours of Service” rules, allow commercial truckers to spend 11 hours per day – nearly half the day – behind the wheel before they need to take a break. While truckers already are under pressure to deliver their loads on time, spending the maximum hours on the road that the regulations allow, a shortage of truck drivers is putting even more pressure on drivers to hit the regulatory limits for time on the road. The natural result of these long hours on the road — even without the shortage of drivers, truck drivers make more money the more they drive – is driver fatigue. Truck drivers frequently suffer from insufficient sleep.


Federal Studies Show That Fatigued Truck Drivers are a Problem on the Roads


The National Institute of Health has studied the effects of fatigue on drivers, truckers included. The impact of fatigue on truck drivers can include diminished driver performance, such as:


  • Slower reaction times
  • An inability to pay attention to the road, and
  • Bad decisions in crucial situations.


Truck Driving

Miami Truck Accident Attorneys – Fatigued Truck Drivers – Personal Injury Lawyers

The NIH study concluded that driver fatigue raises the risk of crashes. Nonetheless, truckers have high incentives to drive as much as the law allows. Because they often are paid by the mile, drivers are prone to stay on the road for as long as federal regulations will let them. More miles, more money. Whether they are tired is less relevant than the pressure to deliver their load on time and the paycheck at the end of the trip. Unfortunately, this can result in fatigued truckers making bad decisions on the road, resulting in serious driving errors. These errors can include unplanned drifting across lanes, tailgating, failing to signal lane changes, not braking far enough in advance, and other similar errors that can result in car accidents, major injuries, or death.


Driver Fatigue Has Serious Effects on Truck Drivers’ Performance


While statistics show that tired truck drivers result in higher likelihood of car accidents, it is unfortunately true that federal statistics show that approximately 13 percent of trucker drivers were fatigued when they were involved in an accident.  Federal statistics blame driver fatigue as a factor in about 100,000 traffic accidents every year, resulting in roughly 1,500 deaths every year. However, it doesn’t stop there. Some studies indicated that truck driver fatigue could be a factor in as many as 30 to 40 percent of traffic accidents involving commercial trucks.


One survey of over-the-road truckers determined that at least two-thirds of truck drivers conceded being tired on roughly half of their trips. In addition, two-thirds of truck drivers reported being fatigued, with symptoms including yawning, being sleepy, and finding it difficult to stay awake while driving. The same survey found 13 percent of long-haul truckers admitted to having fallen asleep while driving.


Given how heavily regulated truck drivers are when it comes to how many hours they can stay behind the wheel, it seems a little counterintuitive to find that fatigue is a common cause of accidents among truck drivers. However, most people who drive 11 hours straight would admit to being tired by the end of the drive, and truck driver fatigue may be hard to detect. It seems likely that most truck drivers would be reluctant to admit to being fatigued at the time of their accident.


Police Don’t Track Drowsy Truck Drivers



Miami Truck Accident Attorney – Fatigued Truck Drivers – Personal Injury Lawyer

It is hard to tell when or how police offices investigating accidents identify drowsy drivers. The fact is, there is virtually no data on the matter. While this makes it more difficult to estimate the extent of the problem, federal statistics make it clear that the problem is serious, especially among commercial truckers. Over-the-road truckers who drive overnight or early-morning trips apparently are more likely to suffer from the effects of fatigue than drivers who work during daylight hours. In fact, studies indicate that truck drivers are eight times more likely to suffer from fatigue between midnight and 6 a.m. than any other time of day. Other studies have found that truck drivers are as much as 20 times more likely to be drowsy or actually fall asleep while driving between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.


Fighting Truck Driver Fatigue


One study of drowsy driving, including among truckers, developed a number of strategies to reduce the risk of drowsy driving, including:


  • Requiring education about fatigued driving on licensing tests
  • Screen professional truck drivers for sleep apnea, which is a leading cause of drowsy driving among truckers and ensure that they undergo professional treatment
  • Put rumble strips in place along highways to warn drivers that they are leaving the roadway.


There are Steps You can Take if You are Involved in an Accident You Think Involved a Drowsy Truck Driver


Subject to limitations resulting from injuries, there are steps you should take if you are involved in an accident involving what you believe to be a fatigued truck driver.  These steps start at the scene of the accident and include:


  • Contact the police immediately
  • To the extent you are able, take pictures and otherwise document the scene of the accident
  • Get copies of police reports
  • If you can interview witnesses or at least obtain contact information.


Determining whether the truck driver might have been fatigued could require an analysis of data from the truck’s electronic control system. It also could require that you examine the truck’s paperless log systems, as well as analyze data from collision warning sensors. These additional steps likely will require the involvement of experienced experts.


If You Have Been Injured in an Accident Involving a Fatigued Truck Driver, Contact a Miami Truck Accident Attorney


Accidents involving commercial truck drivers happen every day. Many of them are the result of truck driver fatigue. While the police might not recognize that truck driver fatigue was a factor in your accident, the regulations on truckers’ time on the road can make it much easier to establish that truck driver fatigue contributed to your traffic accident. If you have been injured in an accident involving a commercial trucker, you should talk to a Miami truck accident attorney to find out what your options are for recovering damages. Contact Flagler Personal Injury Group at (305) 424-8445 or through our online contact form. Flagler Personal Injury Group serves the greater Miami area.

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