You probably don’t need to be told that truck accidents are about as dangerous as traffic accidents can be. Truck drivers are professional drivers who are held to careful safety regulations and restrictions for this very reason. When truck drivers engage in negligent driving practices, they put all of us on the road at increased danger, and truck driver exhaustion is as common a problem as it is dangerous. If you or someone you care about has been injured by a drowsy trucker, don’t put off consulting with an experienced South Carolina truck accident attorney.
Fatigue Causes Impairments That Are Similar to Those Caused by Alcohol
You know that you’re not at your best when you’re fatigued, but you may not realize that fatigue can cause impairments that are similar to those caused by drinking. Having too little sleep under your belt can lead to all of the following:
- Delayed thought processes
- Impaired physical abilities
- Impaired vision
- Diminished judgment
Having too little sleep can also cause you to nod off behind the wheel or to fall asleep while driving. When the person behind the wheel of a massive semi is drowsy, it makes for extremely dangerous driving. Big rigs can weigh up to 8 tons, and they are more difficult to maneuver safely in the best of conditions. When the truck’s driver is fatigued, it greatly increases the risk that a life-threatening accident will occur.
Truck Drivers and Their Schedules
Many of us work brutal schedules, but most of us work either days or nights or alternating blocks of days or nights. Truck drivers spend long hours behind the wheel of their rigs and operate whenever there is cargo to haul, which means their schedules are often erratic. The erratic nature of their schedule can greatly contribute to sleep loss and to a lack of adequate deep sleep. Further, driving long hauls can have a hypnotizing effect that serves to lull truck drivers to sleep.
Health Challenges Faced by Truckers
Truckers face long hours on the road and have sedentary lifestyles, which are both closely associated with a variety of health challenges that can serve to increase fatigue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares all the following impediments to healthy living that truck drivers face:
- Unhealthy diets due to limited access to healthy options on the road
- Irregular and often highly stressful work schedules
- Long, grueling hours behind the wheel
- Inadequate physical activity
Further, due to the nature of their work, truck drivers are far more prone to the following types of health concerns:
- Heart disease
Any one of these can contribute to fatigue. Further, truck drivers are far more likely to smoke cigarettes and experience sleep disturbances. Truck drivers are also an aging workforce, and sleep issues tend to increase with age. Finally, truck drivers generally have inadequate access to healthcare, and many lack coverage.
Fatigued Truckers Are More Common Than You Think
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s National Survey of Long-Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury reveals some terrifying truths about how common it is for truckers to drive while fatigued. Consider the following findings:
- 7 percent of all truck drivers admitted that they feel drowsy every day while driving.
- A full 34 percent of truckers admitted to nodding off or to falling asleep behind the wheel.
- Almost 25 percent of all truckers surveyed admitted to having had a near-miss in the last week, and 12 percent of these truckers admitted to having two or more such misses.
None of this is good news when it comes to safety on our roadways. Additionally, it must be pointed out that truck drivers (just like everyone else) are far more likely to underreport than to overreport regarding these matters, which means these percentages are likely low.
Hours of Service Restrictions
Drowsy driving for truckers is so dangerous that the federal government implements careful hours of service restrictions that limit the number of hours truck drivers can spend behind the wheel. Even if these restrictions, however, are carefully adhered to, they simply cannot account for all the other factors that can contribute to drowsy driving. Further, because truck drivers aren’t earning money if they aren’t putting miles behind them, some are not above working around these safety rules. Finally, some trucking companies expect their drivers to drive outside these safety parameters.
Sharing the Road Safely With Truckers
While there is nothing you can do about truck drivers who choose to engage in negligent driving practices, there are some important steps you can take to help you stay safe out there, including:
- Make sure that you, yourself, are not drowsy when you get behind the wheel.
- If you see a trucker weaving dangerously or otherwise driving erratically, steer clear and alert the authorities (you could help save a life).
- Remember that truckers experience wide blind spots along all four sides of their rigs, so do what you can to put considerable distance between yourself and big rigs, and never pass a semi on the right.
- Because massive tractor-trailers require far longer stopping distances, allow plenty of room between your vehicle and any semis of which you pull in front.
- Truck drivers carry out an important job that we all benefit from, so pay them the respect they deserve on the road, allow them the space they need to maneuver their unwieldy vehicles safely, and always make arriving alive your primary concern.
Don’t Wait to Consult With an Experienced South Carolina Truck Accident Attorney
Even relatively minor truck accidents can be extremely serious accidents. If an exhausted truck driver leaves you injured in a truck accident, the focused truck accident attorneys at McCravy Law in South Carolina are committed to skillfully advocating for a just claim resolution that addresses your damages in their entirety. We’re here to help, so please don’t wait to contact or call us at 864-388-9100 today.