Truck driver yawning

Were you injured in a collision with an 18-wheeler or another large commercial vehicle? If the truck driver did not get adequate rest and was driving while overly drowsy at the time of the crash, you could be owed significant compensation.

The experienced truck accident attorneys at the Sumner Law Group, LLC, want to help you seek fair compensation for the harm that you’ve suffered and the losses you’ve incurred. As motorists, we have the right to expect that truckers and the companies that employ them will follow hours of service regulations and will do everything they can to make sure they are awake and alert behind the wheel.

If a tired truck driver hurts you, our team is ready to stand up and fight for you. For a free case evaluation, call our St. Louis office or reach out to us online today.

What Is Drowsy Driving?

Drowsy or fatigued driving happens when a driver gets behind the wheel of a vehicle without adequate sleep or rest. While it seems like an innocuous choice – who hasn’t felt a little tired once in a while? – it is an extremely dangerous behavior, especially for truck drivers.

The Sleep Foundation recommends that average adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night to function properly. Many truckers fail to get enough sleep and drive during nighttime hours when the body’s natural rhythms cry out for rest.

Drowsy Driving Statistics in St. Louis

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) documented 697 fatalities related to drowsy driving in just one recent year. For large trucks, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) finds that around 13 percent of commercial truck crashes happened when the driver was considered fatigued. These numbers highlight the importance of safe, rested truck operators.

When Do Most Drowsy Driving Accidents Occur?

Truck crashDrowsy driving accidents happen most frequently during times of the day where there is a natural dip in the body’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is the human body’s internal clock that control’s the sleep-wake cycle. It works by optimizing certain processes of the body for different points in a 24 hour-day.

NHTSA finds that the majority of drowsy driving collisions happen during these natural low points, typically between midnight and 6 a.m. and late in the afternoon.

Compensation for Victims of Fatigued Truck Driver Crashes

If there’s evidence that an overly tired truck driver caused an accident, they might be considered fully responsible for the crash. If a trucking company employed them, the trucking company could also be liable for the collision.

Compensation that you could be eligible for following a severe truck accident includes:

  • Accident-related medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Pain and suffering related to your injuries
  • Repair or replacement of damaged property (such as your car)

Factors That Influence Truck Driver Fatigue

Several factors lead truck drivers to risk their own other drivers’ safety by driving drowsy. These factors can include:

  • Tight deadlines – Drivers are often under intense pressure to deliver their cargo on tight deadlines. This stress can cause a driver to make poor choices about driving when they are tired simply to stay on schedule and meet unreasonable expectations.
  • Hours awake – Driving a truck is not a 9-to-5 job. The hours can be long and vary day by day. The FMCSA places strict limits on the maximum number of hours that a driver can operate a vehicle. For property-carrying drivers, they may not exceed 11 hours of service after 10 consecutive hours off duty. They are also not allowed to drive after 14 consecutive hours on duty.
  • Sleep disorders – Some cases of fatigued driving can be attributed to diagnosed or undiagnosed sleep disorders. Sleep apnea and other conditions can leave drivers exhausted even when they think they’ve gotten enough sleep the night before.
  • Rotating shift schedules – Schedules with rotating shifts can severely impact a person’s health and the quality of their sleep. In fact, according to the Cleveland Clinic, shift work sleep disorder is now a recognized medical condition. Some shift schedules work against the body’s natural circadian rhythm, and this disruption can cause drivers to fall asleep at the wheel or prevent sleep when it’s finally time to rest.

Warning Signs of Driver Fatigue

What does drowsy driving look like? There are several warning signs to watch for. Some of the most commons signals that a driver may be fatigued include:

  • Driving too fast for the road conditions
  • Weaving in and out of lanes
  • Making unsafe lane changes or not using signals
  • Driving on the rumble strips or the shoulder
  • Slamming on the brakes
  • Tailgating
  • Overcorrecting
  • Failing to obey traffic signs and signals
  • Failing to yield

Proving Liability for Drowsy Driving Truck Accidents in St. Louis

After a truck accident, many injured victims immediately blame the driver. While a fatigued truck driver may have caused the crash, other parties could also be liable. Reckless or negligent practices by the trucking company or the truck’s owner may allow those parties to be held responsible for the accident as well.

Ultimately, liability for a truck crash may be attributed to one or multiple parties, including:

  • The truck driver
  • The trucking company
  • The truck owner, if different from the driver or company

Contact a Truck Accident Attorney in St. Louis for Help

Drowsy driving is negligent driving. If a truck driver failed to get adequate rest before their shift, or if the company that employed them pushed them to drive beyond the hours they are supposed to, you could be owed compensation. Contact us online or call our experienced St. Louis truck accident attorney at Sumner Law Group, LLC about your rights and legal options now.