Truck drivers often drive long distances for several hours at a time without rest. Because of this, truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel is a common concern since it can lead to accidents on the road.
If you have been in any truck driving accident, getting legal representation should be your top priority. At West Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers, our legal team handles truck accident cases in Moncks Corner, South Carolina and can help you build a substantial claim against a fatigued driver.
Risks Associated With Driving When Tired
Every person operating a vehicle on the road has a responsibility to drive safely for themselves and everyone else. This responsibility is even higher when it comes to truck drivers since they operate such large vehicles. Unfortunately, some truck drivers and trucking companies do not take this responsibility as seriously as they should.
Statistics for South Carolina show that in 2020, fatal accidents involving trucks were at 6.5%.
One of the main reasons for these accidents was sleep deprivation since truck drivers have to drive long hours. Here are some examples of the risks associated with truck drivers driving when they’re tired.
Slower response time
When someone is operating a vehicle when they are fatigued, this imitates the symptoms of driving drunk. They are much slower and less likely to respond in time to stop accidents from occurring on the road. This is especially dangerous for other vehicles on the road since trucks are so large and have multiple blind spots. A slow response time is especially dangerous if the weather conditions are poor or there is traffic or road work causing delays.
Problems paying attention
When a truck driver is drowsy, they may be able to stay awake but struggle to maintain their attention on the road. They may become easily distracted or struggle to focus ahead of them without nodding off. This increases the risk of an accident, especially when it comes to situations where the truck may need to stop suddenly or make room for another vehicle.
Less vehicle control
Because trucks are more difficult to operate, truck drivers have to stay focused so that they don’t pose a risk to other drivers. When a truck driver is tired, they usually have less vehicle control and could quickly swerve into other lanes. This increases the risk of head-on collisions as well as rear-end accidents. This is why other drivers on the road should be cautious if they notice a truck driving recklessly or too close to the surrounding vehicles.
How Long Do Truck Drivers Usually Drive?
In order to keep the roads safe, truck driver hours are regulated at a federal level, requiring trucking companies to enforce these hours of service. Because of this, the standard hours are 11 hours of drive time after having a break that is 10 consecutive hours.
Truck drivers must take a 30-minute break after 8 hours of straight drive time. How long truck drivers have to sleep is also federally regulated. If the driver is sleeping in the berth, they must get at least 8 hours of sleep before driving.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for trucking companies to pressure their employees to drive for longer periods of time. Some trucking companies may not openly do this, but they may overbook their drivers or create unreasonable delivery schedules.
Companies may also ignore prior hours of service violations, allowing drivers to exceed their hours of drive time. Because of this, some truckers may skip their federally required breaks or abuse medications to try to stay awake.
How Is Falling Asleep Behind the Wheel Proved?
If a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and caused an accident, this can be difficult to prove in court. But there are some pieces of evidence that can prove the likelihood of this being the cause of an accident, such as:
- Witnesses who saw the truck swerving or driving recklessly.
- Dash cameras showing the truck failing to stop and yield to other vehicles.
- Hours of service violations in the truck driver logbook.
- The absence of skid marks at the scene of the accident.
- Medical records proving that the driver has a condition that impacts their ability to drive safely.
Who Is Liable For Truck Accidents?
When a truck driver falls asleep at the wheel, it is usually their fault for driving when they are fatigued. However, there are a lot of nuances to each case since other factors can impact who is negligent. For instance, the trucking company may have required the driver to drive longer hours than they were supposed to, causing truck driver fatigue. The driver may have also had a medical condition that contributed to the accident that the company knew about.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer to Investigate Fatigue’s Role in a Crash
If you were the victim of an accident involving a truck driver falling asleep at the wheel, you need to hire a truck accident lawyer.
At West Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers, our Moncks Corner truck accident attorneys can help you collect evidence and build your case to take to trial. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss potential settlements or compensation.