Nodding off on the road, for no more than a couple of seconds at a time, can be dangerous enough to cause serious accidents. We know that distracted driving and drowsy driving are some of the most important road safety risks for drivers, passengers, and the people with whom they share the road. On top of this, it is no news that commercial drivers tend to be a bit careless with regards to their driving habits, in particular with being distracted or drowsy, leading to serious accidents.

The ramifications of such negligence and indifference towards the safety of others can be quite serious, sometimes even fatal. But why does this happen, and more specifically, why are commercial truck drivers more prone to drowsy sleeping than regular drivers. We first start with affirming this fact – commercial drivers are indeed at a much greater risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. Drowsy drivers have caused catastrophic commercial truck crashes on the roads of Florida, and in this article, we’ll discuss why that is the case.

Read on to find out the leading causes of commercial truck driver fatigue and how their behavior can be modified to make the roads safer for all.

Our experienced truck accident lawyers at the VG Law Group can help you settle for the losses caused by commercial vehicle accidents, and more specifically fatigued truck driver crashes, to see justice done.

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The Dangers Of Truck Driver Drowsiness Are Just As Serious As Distracted Driving & Drunk Driving

If we take into account the risks associated with drowsy driving, distracted driving, and drunk driving, it would be hard to term one worse than the rest. This much is certain that being inattentive on the road is a fatal mistake, especially when driving bulky vehicles that pack sizeable momentum at high speeds, i.e. trucks, semi-trucks, vans, garbage trucks, and so on.

And ironically/fatefully, it is the people who drive such hard-to-handle vehicles that tend to show the most negligence on their duties. This is in part because commercial drivers have a very monotonous routine, sometimes even over-exertive which leads to such negligence. Plus, there are hours and hours of driving with not so many breaks in between – not the perfect combination for the road. But, of course, these causes are themselves a result of reasons deep-rooted in the transportation industry/trucking company.

The symptoms of drowsy driving, for anyone sharing the same road, are almost the same as drunk driving. You might see erratic steering, dull/lack of response, vehicle rubbing against the divider or the barriers on the sides, and so on. If you notice something like this on the road, maintain a safe distance and alert the fatigued driver with your horn to avoid a trucking accident.

Leading Causes Of Fatigued Driving For Truck Drivers In Florida

Now let’s explore the causes of commercial driver fatigue in commercial drivers and how we can counter this problem through modification in behavior and improving company policy. Some causes are direr than others but the overall effect is dangerous all the same:

Long Stretches Of Driving

This is pretty obvious – truck drivers have to take long routes traveling from city to city or even interstate. Moving over such long distances can not only become repetitive but also physically and mentally tiring for the driver. The long routes, constant driving, hypnotizing views, and monotonous routine can be too much to bear.

And since there is minimal or no rest in between these long stretches of driving, the risk of drowsy driving is highly elevated. It is not only the tiring hours but also the monotonous stretches of the highway which can put drivers into a type of trance called highway hypnosis which reduces the reaction time of the driver.

This is the first area in need of improvement through better employee management on the company’s part.

Stressful Schedules

The mental stress of meeting deadlines, completing milestones, and coping with irregular schedules puts an ever-present psychological pressure on the drivers. This stress is another source of fatigue for them and soon manifests itself in a physical state (tired drivers). If the drivers were to be managed more effectively and given practical/doable schedules, not only would they avoid stress but also drive safely.

Inadequate Fleet Management Protocols

Fleet managers, in modern times, have sophisticated technology (electronic logging devices) at hand to better manage their workers throughout the service area. They no longer rely on phone-calling everyone to see how well or poorly they are performing. However, many companies are still resisting such technological innovations. In such cases, the efficiency of work distribution will be compromised and drivers will be subjected to tiring and impractical routines.

Disregard For Federal Rules

The trucking industry is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which creates regulations and standards for people involved and aims to make trucking safe for all. This regulatory body has created rules for hours of service in an attempt to standardize the trucking business and to prevent driver fatigue; if these federal regulations are followed, the trucking business can become much safer.

These rules include but are not limited to:

  • Drivers can only legally stay behind the wheel for 11 consecutive hours per day (maximum).
  • Drivers can stay on the clock for 14 hours, no more than that, during this period to prevent sleep deprivation.
  • Following eight hours of duty, drivers should take at least 30 minutes of rest to avoid driver fatigue and subsequent motor vehicle crashes.
  • The workweek for a truck driver at a truck company is 7-8 days long.
  • The hourly duration for a workweek is between 60 and 70 hours.
  • Following a workweek, 60 hours/7 days or 70 hours/8 days, drivers should be entitled to a minimum of 34 hours as a rest period to offer adequate sleep.
  • This resting period is also referred to as the "restart" period since it helps reinvigorate the truck driver for a fresh working session to avoid a commercial truck accident.
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Drowsy driving can lead to serious truck accidents, the chances of wrongful deaths in commercial vehicle crashes are also staggeringly high. But even in moderate cases, the damages can be pretty serious – the economic and non-economic losses can be overwhelming. In such cases, when a truck accident claim is involved, your only ally is a personal injury attorney with a track record of success who will review your case, explore liabilities, and devise a plan for approaching the case to secure fair compensation.

When you call our truck accident attorneys at the VG Law Group, we’ll first arrange an initial consultation session to help you explore the details of your case. Based on the information you offer, a truck accident lawyer from our firm will help you better assess your position in the case, the liable parties (driver error, mismanagement, etc.), and your legal options as the injury victim. Following this, we will offer you legal representation at all stages of the case and make sure that you get compensated fairly for your losses (medical bills, loss of enjoyment of life, catastrophic injuries, other insurance company claims, etc.)

Call us today for more information on how we can help you in your case!

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