Truck Driver Fatigue Accidents are on the Rise. But Why?
When you get behind the wheel of your car, you know that you should stay alert and keep your eyes on the road. But what if you had a bad night and didn’t sleep? Coffee is doing only so much to keep you awake and you need to get to work. While driving, you can feel your eyes start to close. You fight it, but for only so long. And the next thing you know, bam! You’re in the middle of an accident.
Now take that scenario and change the driver from a commuter going to work to a truck driver. Suddenly, the stakes are even more serious.
According to a recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one of the major causes of large truck crashes in the US today is truck driver fatigue. Approximately 13 percent of truck drivers involved in an accident were considered to have been fatigued at the time of their crash. Thanks to long hours on the road and short deadlines, truck drivers are risking the lives of everyone on the road by driving while fatigued. And what’s worse, even if they get eight hours of sleep, a disorder can still make them sleepy.
A new study from the University of Minnesota Morris had found that many truck drivers suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder where you stop breathing for short periods of time while you’re sleeping, causing you to wake up. The disorder can prevent you from going into REM sleep and cause you to be tired during the day. According to the study, 20 percent of large truck accidents are the result of sleepiness behind the wheel and what’s causing truck driver fatigue is sleep apnea. Although the disorder is treatable, it can go undiagnosed unless the person is screened for the disorder. And with the sedentary lifestyle many truck drivers have, it is possible that they suffer from the disorder.
Unfortunately, the trend of truck accidents is not decreasing but is on the rise. From 2009 to 2013, there was an increase of fatal truck accidents of 17.3 percent. Meanwhile, in the last four years, the U.S. Congress has been modifying, blocking, or rolling back many important safety regulations for the trucking industry, including allowing truck drivers to work 82 hours a week and be more flexible with their rest breaks. Will these numbers continue to increase? Time will only tell.
If you get into an accident involving a sleepy truck driver or lost a loved one in commercial truck crash in New Jersey, know your legal rights. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone today for a free consultation.