We rely on commercial truck operators to transport the materials, equipment, and goods we depend on daily. Drivers frequently travel thousands of miles under strict deadlines. The pressure to deliver on time often comes at the cost of adequate rest.
Long hours of isolation, unusual schedules, payment by the mile, and other factors in the trucking industry can leave truck drivers constantly sleep-deprived and at-risk for drowsy driving accidents. If you were injured due to truck driver fatigue in Clayton or surrounding areas of Missouri, you shouldn’t have to bear the costs of the driver’s negligence.
At Sumner Law Group, LLC, our Clayton tired truck driver accident attorneys can help you seek fair compensation for your losses in a drowsy driving truck accident claim. Contact us today to learn more about your legal options in a free initial consultation.
How Dangerous Is It to Drive a Truck While Tired?
Drowsy driving is hazardous under any circumstances. Operating a motor vehicle requires alertness and focus. An overly tired driver will often struggle to stay focused, experience delayed reaction time, and have trouble accurately gauging speed and distance.
A large commercial truck can be many times larger and heavier than a standard passenger vehicle. Heavy trucks are more difficult to maneuver, turn, slow, and stop than smaller cars, so commercial drivers must undergo special training to understand how to do their jobs safely.
When truck drivers are impaired by fatigue, they may have difficulty staying aware of their surroundings, judging relative distances, and adjusting to changes in traffic. That can be a recipe for disaster when you factor in the lethal momentum of a 40-ton behemoth on wheels.
What Causes Clayton Truck Driver Fatigue?
Some of the significant contributors to truck driver fatigue in Clayton drowsy driving truck crashes include:
- Driving for too long – Most commercial drivers get paid by the mile, not the hour. “If the wheels aren’t turning, you aren’t earning,” is a trucker’s adage. Unfortunately, this can create an incentive for drivers to stay on the road as long as they can, even if that means driving while dangerously fatigued.
- Driving at odd hours – Some truck drivers prefer to avoid traffic by driving at night, but research shows drowsy driving accidents are widespread when it’s dark and the body’s internal clock says it’s time to sleep.
- General sleep deprivation – Rotating shift schedules are common in the trucking industry and lead to poor sleep habits. Over time, lack of sleep can lead to chronic drowsiness, making fatigued truck driver crashes more likely.
- Medical conditions – Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea significantly increase the risk of fatigued driving accidents when left untreated. Even illnesses like the common cold can leave drivers naturally exhausted long after other symptoms have subsided.
- Intoxicating substances – Many truck drivers admit to using alcohol and other substances to cope with stress, boredom, and other issues. Even seemingly safe prescription or over-the-counter medications can cause drowsiness. The effects of these intoxicants can linger in the system long after ingestion, making drivers dangerously tired and more likely to crash.
Why Injuries Are Worse in Fatigued Driving Crashes
Truck accidents involving driver fatigue are significantly more likely to result in severe and potentially life-threatening injuries.
If drivers are drowsy, they can nod off behind the wheel for short bursts known as “microsleeps.” When this occurs, drivers do not have the presence of mind to brake, swerve, or take other actions to avoid imminent crashes.
As a result, many drowsy driving truck accidents occur at high speeds. The full force of a high-speed collision often results in catastrophic damage and severe injury.
How to Prevent Drowsy Driving
You can take responsibility for preventing drowsy driving accidents by:
- Making it a priority to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night
- Not getting behind the wheel when you’re feeling sleep-deprived
- Pulling over to a safe location when you start feeling sleepy behind the wheel
- Not driving late at night at times when people usually sleep
- Sharing the responsibility of driving with another driver on long trips
- Checking the side effects of any medications you take before driving
- Not drinking any amount of alcohol before driving
Proving an Accident Was Caused by Driver Drowsiness
There is no equivalent to a drunk driving field sobriety test or blood panel for drowsiness. Proving that a driver was falling asleep while driving a truck can be difficult, but skilled attorneys frequently use the following types of evidence in drowsy driving truck accident cases:
- Truck driver hours of service from electronic logging devices or manual logbooks
- Toll receipts and gas station receipts with the date and time stamps, which can be used to show how long a driver was on the road
- Hotel receipts that show mileage, check-ins, and check-outs between stops
- Bills of lading and cargo loading manifests stamped with departure times
- Electronic data recorder or “black box” data, which can show whether a trucker braked, swerved, or took other evasive actions before the collision
Drowsy Driving Statistics in Clayton, Missouri
The following statistics illustrate how common and deadly drowsy driving can be:
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports 1 out of 25 surveyed adults reported falling asleep behind the wheel within the past month.
- The effects of staying awake for 24 hours are equivalent to the impact of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit.
- In Missouri alone, there were 83 deaths, and 870 reported severe injuries from drowsy driving accidents reported between 2012 and 2017, though the actual number is likely much higher.
Clayton Truck Driver Hours of Service Regulations
In addition to other state and federal drowsy driving laws, truck drivers in Clayton must adhere to the following hours of service (HOS) regulations imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA):
- The 11-hour driving limit – Drivers are prohibited from driving for more than 11 hours following 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time.
- The 14-hour on-duty limit – Drivers are prohibited from driving beyond their 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- The 30-minute break requirement – Drivers are required to take a 30-minute break after driving for eight cumulative hours without at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted break time.
- The 60/70-hour limit – Drivers are prohibited from driving more than 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days following 34 consecutive hours off-duty.
Contact Our Clayton Fatigued Truck Driver Accident Lawyers Today
If a fatigued truck driver has seriously injured you, turn an experienced Clayton truck accident attorney from the Sumner Law Group, LLC, to fight for the justice and compensation you deserve. Our professional team will be ready to answer your questions and help you understand your legal options during a no-cost case review. Get started today by calling us or reaching out to us online.