Truck driver fatigue is a much larger threat than most people realize, and it is responsible for a high number of serious and fatal truck accidents each year. As a result, it’s critically important to determine whether fatigued driving may have contributed to your accident. When a truck driver is operating a vehicle while drowsy, chances are that the driver’s employer is also to blame for that behavior.
Truckers Violating Hours of Service Rules
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the agency responsible for regulating the interstate trucking industry. In an effort to improve driver alertness and prevent drowsy driving crashes, the FMCSA worked long and hard to develop hours of service rules that limit when and for how long commercial drivers may legally be behind the wheel without stopping to rest for a specific period of time.
The rules are common sense and based on scientific research, but the trucking industry has pushed back at every attempt to implement them, claiming they are inefficient and bad for business. This has led to inconsistent enforcement of the rules and many legal challenges. Thankfully, for now, the rules remain in place.
Unfortunately, many drivers look for ways to violate hours of service rules in order to stay on the road longer without adequate rest. Similarly, trucking companies seeking to protect their bottom line push drivers, even those who are ordinarily conscientious, to drive while fatigued. The result is an unacceptably high rate of fatigued driving crashes. WIth that said, it isn’t always easy to know whether fatigue played a role in any specific crash until that collision is investigated by an attorney for the victim(s). Our experienced Tri-Cities, WA personal injury lawyer team is honored to serve in this capacity for our clients.
Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea
One of the significant contributing factors to truck driver fatigue is a medical condition known as sleep apnea. Apnea occurs when the tongue and soft tissue in the throat collapses during sleep, blocking the airways and causing the person to stop breathing for short periods many times per night. Even if the sufferer doesn’t wake up from the disrupted breathing, the quality of sleep they receive is terrible and will leave them feeling fatigued.
This condition is often related to weight gain and a sedentary lifestyle, which is highly probable as a truck driver. Moreover, commercial truck drivers seem to suffer from sleep apnea at higher rates than the general public. The estimated prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea among adult men in general is about 3 to 7 percent. One study of commercial truck drivers found that up to 28 percent of drivers suffered from sleep apnea.
Many may not know they suffer from it, but the danger is nonetheless very real. Research shows that drivers with sleep apnea are five times more likely than the average person to be involved in a crash.
Contact Us to Discuss Your Case for Free
As the victim of a trucking accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries and to reduce the likelihood that others will have to suffer the same injuries you did. To discuss your case with an experienced Tri-Cities, WA personal injury lawyer, contact our office today.