Drowsy driving is gaining increased prominence as a major cause of car accidents across the nation. When it comes to drivers of large trucks, drowsy driving can have especially devastating effects.
Why truck drivers do not get enough sleep
Unfortunately, big rig drivers are far more likely than the average motorist to suffer from sleep deprivation. The main culprit is their grueling work schedule. Although federal authorities have established regulations requiring truckers to take rest breaks and log their hours, many argue that these do not do enough.
Even if truckers comply with mandated rest periods, they may still get insufficient sleep, as experts claim that drivers need at least seven hours of sleep to be safe on the road. Work pressures also encourage drivers to sleep less.
A common scenario occurs when a driver has his or her route planned out to include proper rest breaks; however, weather or traffic conditions create a delay. A client expects delivery by a specific time and being late will cause problems. The driver ends up skipping the rest breaks in order to make up the time, and then fudges the paperwork to cover the fact that rules were broken.
Sleep apnea can also contribute to a functional lack of sleep. People who suffer from this health problem often think they got a good night's sleep. However, they are unaware that they have been waking up all night. Results include fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, slowed reaction times and compromised physical coordination. Truck drivers with sleep apnea may not even know they have this condition.
Steps motorists can take for safety
Sleep deprivation increases the likelihood of a truck driver getting into an accident. Because of the size and weight of the truck, the damage is often extremely serious. The length of the truck creates certain blind spots for its driver, who is unable to see all the cars driving in the next lane. The same length also makes turns and lane changes more difficult. Heavy trucks also take longer to come to a stop.
When motorists share the road with commercial trucks, knowing the particular dangers big rigs present can help them stay safe. They can make sure to stay out of trucks' blind zones by looking for the truck's mirrors. If the driver is not visible in the reflection, he or she cannot see them. They should also avoid tailgating or driving right in front of a semi, as the driver cannot see them there either. Looking for signs of impairment such as careless driving, drifting, and sharp stops and starts may allow a motorist to avoid a dangerous situation.
Even while taking all possible precautions, drivers can still end up the victim of a truck accident. In such a case, they are likely to face serious injuries and property damages. People in these circumstances should speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to learn how they can get the full extent of the compensation they are entitled to.