Just about everyone with a driver’s license has gotten behind the wheel after not getting enough sleep. With the fast pace of life in this technological world, sleep may feel like a luxury. You may realize that it’s not the safest way to drive, but you figure that you aren’t far from your destination, so you can make it.
Sadly, some long haul truck drivers feel the same way. They see nothing wrong with driving while fatigued. It’s not like they are drunk, right? Wrong. It actually does resemble drunk driving, and it is dangerous.
Sleep deprivation and trucking
Considering the fact that the majority of truck accidents in which the other vehicle is not at fault result from truck driver error, fatigue is a big problem in the industry. Truck drivers know it’s a problem. They admit that fatigue plays a role in a certain number of crashes each year. They also include inattention, pressure from employers and mild fatigue as factors.
Sleep experts say that adults need at least seven hours of sleep a night in order to safely operate a vehicle. Many truckers feel lucky to get five hours of sleep, and most get less than that. Studies show that not sleeping for 24 hours causes a person to act as if he or she has a blood alcohol concentration of .10 percent. That’s more than the legal limit of .08 here in Pennsylvania for alcohol impairment.
Would you want a truck next to you operated by someone in this condition? Of course you wouldn’t. No one would — not even the driver of that truck.
Factors associated with sleep deprivation
A sleep-deprived truck driver becomes even more dangerous when he or she decides to take pills in order to stay awake. The use of legal or illegal drugs to stay awake can cause erratic behavior, which could result in an accident. The use of legal or illegal drugs to go to sleep can cause “brain fog” the next day, which impairs driving as well. Some truckers have cabs with sleeping births in them, but they may not provide the restful sleep needed in order to safely travel the next day.
If you happen to encounter a fatigued truck driver, you could end up suffering serious injuries. In that case, you may pursue compensation for your financial losses through the filing of a personal injury claim against the driver and any other appropriate parties.