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Truck Driver Fatigue

For long-haul truckers, combating fatigue behind the steering wheel is a commonality and nothing out of the ordinary. While some drivers rely on coffee, others resort to loud music, and some even go as far to use drugs illegally to stay awake. While the majority of truckers in Seattle, Kirkland, Bellingham, Olympia, and Washington State are perfectly safe, when those truck drivers are tired or drowsy, they are much more likely to cause truck accidents on the major highways in the state.

The Dangers of Trucker Fatigue

In a research conducted in 2007 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it was found out that in approximately 13% percent of large vehicle accidents, driver fatigue was in fact a critical factor. The significance of this “critical factor” is denoted by the fact that these accidents would not have even happened in the absence of it.

Another factor that comes into play is whether a trucker is driving in day time or night. So, one study was conducted in order to shed light on the impact of difference in schedules on the level of drowsiness. After the conduction of this study, it was found out that most drivers don’t get the level of sleep they should to suffice for the amount of work they do, which in turn, dampens their judgement and decision-making process, resulting into accidents.

As per the study conducted by Caterpillar, it was found out that sleep deprived truckers contribute an overwhelming number of around 79,000 casualties every year. Although there is not a whole lot of research available specifically targeted specifically towards truckers’ fatigue or drowsiness, there are separate studies that show the contribution of drowsy driving towards road accidents. In an English research, it was shown that up to 16% of accidents occur due to drowsiness or sleep deprivation occurring in at least one of the drivers. To elucidate the severity of this matter even more, an Italian study showed that 21.9% of accidents happen because at least one of the drivers got inadequate sleep.

Researchers have claimed that even though studies have been conducted to study the severity of trucker fatigue, they aren’t all that reliable. The reason being unlike breathalyzer for alcohol test, there is no turnkey solution to determine drowsiness, which is ironic because experts have claimed drowsy driving to be equally as alarming as driving under influence.

Harm Caused by Drowsy Truck Drivers

On average, the weight of a commercial truck is 10,000 pounds or more. Laden with cargo, the weight can go up to 80,000 while remaining inside the bounds of law. On the other hand, on average, a passenger vehicle doesn’t weigh more than 4,000 pounds. So to get a clear picture of what goes on at the road, imagine this truck moving forward at the speed of 70 mph with a significantly drowsy driver behind the wheel.

The fatigued driver falls asleep for as short as a fraction of a second and since his response time is impaired, he doesn’t react quickly and he hurl into whatever lies in his way. The result, as you already must have guessed, could be deadly. And in case the truck hits a passenger vehicle, the people onboard are more than likely to sustain serious injuries.

Dealing with Fatigued Drivers with Federal Regulations

Due to the well-known dangers of exhaustion in truckers, measures have been taken to eradicate this problem. One solution is the implementation of the HOS regulations by the FMCSA according to which a truck driver can’t drive more than a limited number of hours per day and week. In addition to that, a 30-minute rule is also in place, which makes it obligatory for a trucker to take a 30-minute break during his 8-hour drive. If he fails to comply, his additional hours wouldn’t be logged.

How to Prove a Truck Accident was Caused by a Drowsy Driver

As your lawyer, we need to take a handful of factors into consideration before we can establish that the accident was in fact caused by driver fatigue. Ideally, we’d start off by examining whether the trucker has been abiding by the laws and driving for a legal number of hours. Questions can be asked from the driver pertaining to the amount of sleep he got before starting his shift. A driver can also be asked if he was taking any substances to keep himself awake and conscious.

In the event it is maintained that the accident was in fact caused due to drowsy driving, the next step would be to determine whether or not the respective trucking company had any rules to ensure that the driver gets adequate rest. If not, the company could in fact be liable for the accident and in order to inflate their revenue, they might have started stretching their limits.

How The Jackman Law Firm can Help with a Drowsy Driving Truck Accident Case

If you have been injured in a trucking accident by a drowsy truck driver, you have the right to bring suit against the trucking company and the driver who hit you. It may be best to file suit against the trucking company and allow the Jackman Law Firm to conduct extensive discovery into the company to see how much information we can discover about their policies regarding truckers who drive for too many hours.

We have had a tremendous success record of obtaining large settlements for our clients from trucking companies. We can make sure you receive money for pain and suffering, get all of your medical bills and future bills paid, out of pocket expenses covered, and if your spouse or legal partner suffered as well, we can make sure they are compensated for their loss of enjoyment of your relationship.

If we are not able to secure a reasonable settlement for your injuries, we will then take your case to court. We have the resources and experience to successfully take your case to trial and obtain a verdict that is fair for your injuries.

If you have questions, feel free to call us for a free consultation.

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