Over 3,880 people were killed in truck accidents in 2012. About 13% of these accidents involved a drowsy driver. Sleep is a big deal for truck drivers. Federal laws require truck drivers to take a ten-hour rest break. However, finding a safe parking spot, eating a meal, and grabbing a shower can take up a good portion of this time.
Many truck drivers consider themselves lucky to get six or seven hours of sleep. Unfortunately, this presents a serious danger to all other drivers on the road. If you or someone you love has been injured by a tired truck driver, you have rights. Contact an Atlanta truck accident attorney at Kaufman Law, P.C. for a free consultation.
You may be entitled to financial compensation for:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future loss of earnings
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish
- Property damage / property loss
Call (404) 355-4000 for your free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Atlanta.
Factors That Lead to Tired Driver Accidents
Sleep restriction or sleep loss: Studies have shown that sleeping for less than four hours per day can lead to impaired driving performance. Unfortunately, the effects of sleep loss are cumulative. Regularly losing just one or two hours of sleep per night can create a “sleep debt” that can lead to chronic sleepiness over time.
Sleep fragmentation: Avoiding drowsy driving accidents requires quality sleep—not just quantity. When sleep is disrupted, functioning is impaired, which does not bode well for drivers. Sleep fragmentation can have many causes, including disruptive sounds, lights, people, activities, or job-related duties, such as being on-call.
Circadian factors: Our bodies have an internal circadian pacemaker that regularly produces feelings of sleepiness during the afternoon and evening. This is true even in people who are not sleep deprived. When these sleep patterns are disrupted, such as by working the late shift, sleep can suffer and impaired driving may result.
When a driver is sleepy, the chance of a car accident dramatically increases. Drowsy driving can lead to severe injuries for drivers and other motorists.
One-Third of Truck Drivers Suffer from Sleep Apnea
Sleeping in a truck while parked at a rest stop or along the side of the road may not be the ideal condition for a good night’s rest. Still, poor sleeping conditions are not the only reason truck drivers are sleep deprived. Studies have found that a large percentage of truck drivers suffer from a sleep disorder called sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea occurs when breathing is paused during sleep. The pauses can last up to ten seconds but may occur hundreds or thousands of times throughout the night. The sleeper does not notice but may experience daytime drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and micro-sleep episodes due to the condition.
The following are risk factors for sleep apnea:
- Overweight (36% of American truck drivers)
- Cigarette smoking (49% of American truck drivers)
- Obesity (50% of American truck drivers)
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the American Transportation Research Institute of the American Trucking Associations have estimated that almost one-third of truckers suffer from sleep apnea. This may be an underestimate, as many drivers are afraid to report symptoms for fear of losing their job.
Who Is Liable for a Drowsy Driver Truck Accident?
Who is liable when a drowsy trucker causes a truck accident? It depends on the circumstances of the crash. An Atlanta truck accident lawyer at Kaufman Law, P.C. can investigate the wreck and determine who is liable. After a crash, it is important to act quickly in order to ensure that your ability to obtain compensation is not lost.