Drowsy Truck Driver Lawyer in Tampa, FL
Commercial truck drivers work long hours and under strict deadlines when transporting freight. The pressures of the job and the monotony of the road can easily cause truckers to become overtired. Fatigued drivers endanger the lives of everyone on the road.
A federal study on truck accidents found that as many as 13 percent of truckers were fatigued at the time of their crashes. Drowsy truck drivers are especially worrisome in Florida, which already ranks as one of the top 10 states in the nation with the highest average of fatal large truck accidents.
Truck accidents frequently cause the worst injuries compared to other wrecks. The reason is pure physics: When an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer collides with a smaller passenger car, the truck is inevitably going to cause the most damage.
Were you or a loved one seriously injured in a truck accident in Tampa or a surrounding community? You could be entitled to compensation to relieve the burdens caused by medical expenses, lost income, and other damages. The experienced truck accident lawyers in Tampa at Brooks Law Group can help.
Don’t wait to find out what you’re entitled to. Call 1-800-LAW-3030 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
Why Are Tampa Truckers Driving Fatigued?
There are many reasons a truck driver may be fatigued behind the wheel. Some of the most common include:
- Employer pressure: Truck drivers are urged to make deliveries on time or even early, which may make them hesitant to stop and rest for fear of losing pay.
- Truck driver shortage: The U.S. is currently lacking truck drivers. With fewer drivers in the profession, truckers are expected to take on additional trips to maintain supply with demand. This practice can lead to burnout and fatigue.
- Interrupted sleep patterns: Truck drivers often have overnight shifts, which interrupts the body’s circadian rhythm, or natural sleep/wake cycle. For this reason, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recommends that drivers try to avoid driving when they are most likely to be drowsy, between the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. or 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Medications or caffeinated drinks: Truck drivers may use drugs or coffee to help them stay awake. While stimulants may stave off fatigue for a bit, they can actually cause drivers to miss their body’s natural warning signs of drowsiness.
- Alcohol use: Alcoholic beverages have a sedative effect even when consumed in small amounts. When drivers are drunk, they run the risk dozing off or passing out completely while behind the wheel.
- Sleep deprivation: A Harvard University study found that drivers who have not slept in 24 hours are just as impaired as if they are drunk.
- Sleep disorder: As many as 50 to 70 million people have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy. A trucker with an undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorder may not get enough restful sleep and fall asleep unknowingly while driving.
FMCSA regulations require drivers to take regular rest breaks to reduce the likelihood of drowsy driving crashes. That means that it is the responsibility of both the truck driver and the trucking company to ensure that these laws are followed. If an accident occurs, injured victims may be able to file a legal claim against several different parties. Our Tampa truck accident lawyers can help determine who should be held liable for the truck accident that injured you. Sometimes, more than one party is to blame.
Drowsy Truck Driver Statistics
Drowsy driving is more common than you might think. Consider these statistics:
- Drowsy driving and overworked drivers are the main reason behind commercial truck crashes, according to a survey from FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- The National Survey of Long-Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury found that 27 percent of long-haul truck drivers slept six or fewer hours during an average 24-hour period. Sleep experts say people need at least 7 hours to function well.
- The likelihood of truckers having a serious safety issue is highest during the first hour of driving, according to FMCSA. Researchers suspect this is due to “sleep inertia,” which can affect memory, thinking, reaction time, and the ability to resist sleep.
- Every year, approximately 2 million of all U.S. drivers fall asleep behind the wheel.
- Roughly 20 percent of serious motor vehicle crashes involve drowsy drivers.
- NHTSA estimates that as many as 6,000 fatal traffic accidents could be due to drowsy driving every year.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the actual number of drowsy driving crashes is likely underreported. If you suspect that a truck driver was fatigued at the time of your crash, speak to a lawyer immediately.
What Makes Tired Truckers So Dangerous?
In an article in Radcliffe Magazine, a sleep doctor at Harvard Medical School called a truck driven by a drowsy driver “a missile.” It’s a good analogy. Operating a commercial truck requires alertness, precision, and constant awareness of traffic conditions. Fatigue impairs reaction time, cognition, focus, and motor ability — all critical skills needed to maneuver commercial trucks.
Commercial truck drivers are required to take scheduled rest breaks and are only allowed to drive for a set number of hours each day and week. For whatever reason, some neglect to abide by these hours-of-service requirements and drive while fatigued.
Truck drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel can swerve off the road and collide with other vehicles or pedestrians. They could also cause rear-end or head-on collisions, which can easily be deadly even at lower speeds.
How to Prevent Drowsy Driving in Tampa
Drowsy driving is a silent killer. To prevent accidents, motorists need to be educated on the importance of adequate sleep. They also need to listen to their bodies and stop when they feel tired.
Likewise, truck companies have a duty to ensure that their drivers are properly trained and hired. Conducting proper background checks, including medical checks, can help ensure that drivers have a track record of safe driving and are fit to sit behind the wheel.
In addition, truck companies should not engage in practices that make their drivers feel pressured on the roadways. Maintenance issues and traffic congestion can happen at any time, and drivers should not feel threatened or offered incentives to make up the time by missing out on sleep.
Tips to avoid drowsy driving from FMCSA include:
- Nap: If you are tired but need to continue driving, the best short-term strategy is to drink a cup of coffee or energy drink and take a 20-minute nap before driving again. Walking around outside can help circulation and may increase alertness. However, rolling down the window, playing loud music, and turning up the air conditioning have been shown to be ineffective.
- Eat regularly and well: A healthy diet of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates can help you stay awake. Hunger will only add to your fatigue. Avoid big, greasy meals before you go to sleep, as they can make it more difficult to get good rest.
- Know your medications: Many prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause drowsiness. Most are labeled with a warning, so check before you take them. As a rule of thumb, be wary of cold medicines, allergy medications, and ones used for anxiety and depression.
Hurt in a Truck Accident in Tampa? We’ll Fight for Maximum Compensation for You
Truck driver fatigue is a serious problem that can have devastating consequences. If you or a family member was hurt in a crash caused by a drowsy trucker, you should speak with a trusted Florida truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
At Brooks Law Group, our Tampa personal injury attorneys have years of experience representing clients who have been hurt in truck accidents in the Tampa area. Our legal team knows what it takes to build a strong case for compensation. We will conduct a thorough investigation to find out what happened in your case and who should be held liable.
In Florida, truck accident compensation can include money for medical expenses, lost income, lost earning potential, pain and suffering, and more. But truck accident claims are particularly complex. You’ll want a law firm who understands what’s at stake and how to fight for full and fair compensation for your injuries.
More questions? Schedule a free consultation today. There’s no risk and no obligation.
Call 1-800-LAW-3030 or contact us to get started.