Nearly half of all commercial truck drivers admit to “drifting off” while driving a long-haul route. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study reported that 13 percent of commercial truck drivers were fatigued at the time of their crash. The sheer size and weight of the vehicles they’re driving puts truckers at increased risk of causing serious bodily injury and fatalities when an accident occurs. Fatigued truck drivers account for approximately 750 deaths and 20,000 serious injuries every year, according to the FMCSA. In 98 percent of fatal truck accidents, the victim was riding in the passenger car.
Reasons why truck drivers fall asleep at the wheel
A trucker’s log book can contain much evidence pointing to the likelihood of drowsy driving. Drivers are more likely to fall asleep on the road when one or more of the following conditions are met:
- Driving long shifts – By law, truckers can drive for 11 hours straight before they are required to take a break.
- Not taking breaks – Truckers must take 10 consecutive hours off after driving for 11 hours.
- Driving over their allotted amount of hours – Truckers cannot drive beyond 60 hours in a week.
- Taking medication – Pills for allergies, pain, depression, anxiety, and blood pressure can make a person sleepy.
- Driving overnight – Lane deviations, longer blink duration, and slow eye movements have been observed.
Unfortunately, not all truck drivers follow the rules or report their activities honestly. Often, we can root out dishonesty by cross-referencing the loads delivered. Driving while intoxicated and driving with sleep apnea (which could be as high as 28%, according to the FMCSA) are other factors that may contribute to a trucker falling asleep on the road.
How a Lafayette personal injury lawyer proves a truck driver was asleep at the wheel
You might think there is a lot of “he said / she said” in these cases where very little is known about the moments before a crash. However, Lafayette personal injury attorney Bart Bernard knows that there is more evidence and testimony than meets the eye.
Your lawyer will first seek to prove that the sleeping truck driver failed to provide a standard “legal duty of care” to ensure the safety and well-being of others – by speeding, ignoring traffic signs or signals, or taking reckless maneuvers. Police reports, witness statements, and past history of traffic citations can all be sources of crucial evidence.
Whenever possible, Bart Bernard calls in accident reconstructionists to examine the accident scene. When a driver has fallen asleep, there are no braking skid marks. Damaged barricades, trees, or fences may indicate a certain speed. Most modern commercial trucks are equipped with black box recorders and/or cameras that capture information such as braking and acceleration patterns prior to the crash.
Who is liable when a truck driver falls asleep while driving?
The truck driver seems like the most logical defendant, but other negligent parties may include:
- Hiring managers who fail to conduct background checks and verify licensing information prior to hiring the driver
- Supervisors who turn a blind eye to violations of federal regulations or company protocol
- Companies who put pressure on drivers to break the law in order to make deliveries quicker
Need a Lafayette or Baton Rouge personal injury attorney?
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed in a truck accident in Lafayette or Baton Rouge, Louisiana, seek the best possible legal representation from Bart Bernard, who has secured millions of dollars for his clients. All legal services are free unless Bart Bernard wins money on your behalf, so there is nothing to lose by calling today.
Additional “truck drivers asleep at the wheel” resources:
- Grandparents.com – 6 Medications That Make You Too Drowsy To Drive http://www.grandparents.com/health-and-wellbeing/health/medication-side-effects
- FMCSA – CMV Driving Tips – Driver Fatigue https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/driver-safety/cmv-driving-tips-driver-fatigue
- Injury Claim Coach – Asleep at the Wheel http://www.injuryclaimcoach.com/asleep-at-the-wheel.html#
- CDC – Drowsy Driving https://www.cdc.gov/features/dsdrowsydriving/