Truck drivers are often operating their vehicles while drowsy as their work shift call for long hours on the open road. As we recently reported on our Truck Accident Lawyers Blog, the driver of a fuel tanker was killed in an accident with a tractor-trailer. Police are investigating the accident and questioning whether or not the driver was asleep at the wheel.
Our truck accident attorneys understand the risks that drowsy drivers pose to the safety of all motorists on our roadways. Drivers of passenger vehicles are more at risk in these types of accidents as they’re the ones who are more commonly seriously injured or killed in the event of an accident with a large truck.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than 3,000 motorists were killed, and 64,000 were injured, in accidents involving these large commercial trucks in 2008. Less than one-fourth of the injury or fatality victims were in the tractor-trailers at the time of the accident.
In an effort to reduce the risk of an accident with a drowsy truck driver, the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) requests that the American Trucking Associations advise companies to equip their commercial vehicles with automated and tamperproof on-board recording devices, which track driving hours and compliance with hours-of-service rules. The government is also moving to make such recorders mandatory for most over-the-road trucks.
According to an article in Automotive Discovery, a driver alertness warning and lane departure warning system is now be available to truck drivers through the SafeTraK3. This device can help to warn truck drivers about unintentional departure from their lane. It also has the ability to detect erratic driving in any one lane. Experts agree that fatigue and drowsiness are two of the biggest risk factors for commercial trucking accidents. Systems like the SafeTraK3 could be installed in all large trucks, and eventually in passenger cars, to help reduce the risks of a drowsy driving accident.
The AAA Foundation offers these safety tips to help drivers stay awake at the wheel to “Drive Alert…Arrive Alive”:
-Make sure you get enough sleep the night before. If you’ve got a trip planned that involves a significant amount of driving, be sure to prepare yourself for the trip by getting enough sleep in the days leading up to the trip.
-Avoid driving when you’re sleepy. If you feel the effects of drowsiness at the wheel, you should pull over, take a break or get a hotel room to catch up on your rest.
-Travel with a passenger. When you’re traveling with another passenger, be sure to take turns driving as the other passenger catches up on rest. This will cut your personal driving time in half.
Make sure you listen to your biological clock while operating a motor vehicle. Night time is a very risky time for drivers as sleep can be seemingly irresistible. This urge most commonly occurs between midnight and 6 a.m. This is the time when drivers are most likely to be involved in a sleep-related accident. The second most common time for the occurrence of a drowsy driving accident is during the “afternoon lull” or between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
If you are involved in a trucking accident, contact our accident lawyers for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights.