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Driver Fatigue Truck Accidents in Charlotte, North Carolina

Driver fatigue is a significant contributor to commercial truck accidents. Most of us are aware of the dangers associated with driving while intoxicated. Many people do not realize that driving while drowsy can be as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol. Driving while fatigued can substantially increase the risk of an accident. Due to the large size and weight of commercial vehicles, the risk of serious injury increases when truck drivers operate these vehicles while fatigued.

Common Causes of Truck Driver Fatigue

Getting behind the wheel without enough sleep can leave a truck driver feeling drowsy and unable to make quick decisions while driving. Truck drivers are legally allowed to drive for 11 consecutive hours. However, they must have spent 10 straight hours before they begin driving somewhere other than behind the wheel of their vehicles. Unfortunately, many truck drivers disregard these regulations and drive for longer periods. Even when truck drivers do adhere to these regulations and take enough breaks, they can still become fatigued, especially near the end of their 11-hour shift.

Driving While Sick

Many truck drivers refuse to take a day off when they have a cold or have another type of illness. They may be afraid that they will be fired and lose much needed income when they take a day off. Driving while ill can be dangerous and makes it more likely for a truck driver to be fatigued. When truck drivers have a cold, flu, or other serious illness, they require sleep, but their schedule may not allow them enough breaks to get the rest they need to recover, increasing their fatigue.

Medication Use Can Cause Fatigue

In addition to sickness causing truck driver fatigue, many medications have the side effect of causing drowsiness. Even if a truck driver is taking a prescription according to his or her doctor's orders, the prescription can cause this side effect. Over-the-counter medicines, such as Benadryl, can also cause drowsiness. Drowsiness can increase the risk of an accident.

Driving on Unusual Shifts

Truck drivers drive all hours of the day and night. They can get used to driving no matter the hour of the day, especially if they trade off shifts with another driver to get the truck to their destination on time. Unfortunately, taking shifts may mean that the truck drivers drive outside the hours when their body is used to sleeping. Some drivers never adjust to staying awake at night to drive and sleeping during the day. Other drivers may struggle when they need to switch their sleep schedule to meet their deadline.

The Dangerous Effect of Truck Driver Fatigue

Driver fatigue among truck drivers can quickly cause problems. As many as one out of every 25 drivers aged 18 and older admit that they have fallen asleep while driving in the last month. According to the CDC, drowsy driving causes an annual average of 83,000 crashes, 37,000 injuries, and 886 fatalities. Drowsy driving and falling asleep at the wheel is hazardous.

Drowsy driving is similar to drunk driving. When a driver has been awake for at least 18 hours, it is the same as having a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .05%. When a driver has been awake for at least twenty-four hours, it's equivalent to having a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .10%, which is higher than the legal limit in all states.

Additionally, being sleepy while driving affects a driver's ability to drive safely, even if they do not fall asleep at the wheel. Drowsy driving makes a driver less attentive, slows down the driver's reaction time, and affects the driver's ability to make decisions. The CDC reports that commercial truck drivers who operated tow trucks, tractor-trailers, and buses are more likely to drive while drowsy.

Contact a Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Being injured in a commercial truck accident is overwhelming and can cause pain, suffering, and the need for a lifetime of medical treatment. If you or your loved one has suffered an injury in a commercial truck accident, it is crucial that you discuss your case with a lawyer as soon as possible. Trucking companies have the resources to defend themselves to avoid paying you compensation. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our skilled personal injury lawyers will negotiate with the insurance company and advocate for you to obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.

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