Drowsy Truck Driver Accidents

Memphis Truck Accident Attorneys on Your Side – (901) 209-5500

Tennessee is home to some of the country’s biggest manufacturers, which means that the state is a hub for many trucking companies and their drivers. Commercial big rigs are a common sight on the streets and highways of Tennessee, but with so many trucks on the road, there’s a much greater chance of trucking accidents—especially when truck drivers are feeling drowsy. Long-haul truck drivers can drive up to 11 hours legally, but it’s not uncommon for them to drive longer than that to meet tight deadlines.

Our team of Memphis truck accident attorneys understands the damages that can be caused by serious truck accidents, and we’re committed to holding trucking companies responsible. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident involving a drowsy truck driver, don’t hesitate to contact Donati Law, PLLC for the help you deserve.

Schedule a consultation today! Call (901) 209-5500.

The Dangers of Drowsy Truck Drivers

A semi-truck can weigh about 10,000 pounds when unloaded. Legally, commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when loaded—and even more than that with the proper permits. In contrast, the average passenger car weighs a mere 4,000 pounds. The incredible disparity in size means that, more often than not, trucking accidents are catastrophic.

Considering it takes a little under 5 seconds for a truck driving at 55 miles per hour to travel the entire length of a football field, it’s important that truck drivers are alert and prepared to react to any potential hazards. When drivers are drowsy, however, they’re ill-equipped to handle the situations that may arise on the road. Studies show that sleep deprivation has many of the same effects as alcohol on a driver’s reaction times, coordination, and judgment skills.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), about 13% of truck drivers involved in an accident were considered fatigued at the time of the accident. While this number may seem small, the significance is clear—in fatal trucking accidents reported in 2014, 83% of the fatally injured people were in a passenger car, walking, or riding a bicycle. Only 17% of those killed in the reported accidents were an occupant of the semi-truck.

Factors That Lead to Drowsy Truck Drivers

There are many factors that can cause truck drivers to become drowsy or sleep deprived behind the wheel. Here are some of the more common causes.

Tight Schedules

Many trucking companies push drivers to drive beyond their safe limits by imposing tight deadlines and even encouraging drivers to change their logs to make it seem like they are in compliance with federal regulations. Even if a driver is following regulations, they may not be able to pull off the road when they are feeling too tired to drives safely.

Road Hypnosis

Long hours on the road can cause fatigue, lethargy, and dulled senses. This can leave even well-rested drivers feeling drowsy behind the wheel.

Conflicting Biological Schedules

Like all humans, truck drivers have their own biological rhythm that determines when they become sleepy. Driving at night, sleeping irregularly, and other habits of truck drivers can confuse their biological schedule or leave them behind the wheel when their body is preparing to go to sleep.

Sleep Apnea

This sleep disorder is a common cause of daytime sleepiness, and studies have shown that up to 28% of all truck drivers may be living with this condition. Treating sleep apnea is an important precaution to prevent drowsy driving accidents.

Long Commutes to the Terminal

Many of us commute to our jobs, but truck drivers often commute to the terminal, only to clock in and spend another 11 hours behind the wheel. This can mean that drivers are spending anywhere from 11 hours to 24 hours awake and actively driving, depending on the length of their drive to the terminal. This was a factor in the 2014 trucking accident that injured actor Tracey Morgan and killed comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair.

Regulating Drowsy Truck Drivers

The FMCSA is responsible for regulating the trucking industry, and the Administration is particularly involved in finding ways to prevent drowsy drivers from getting behind the wheel of trucks across the country. In July 2013, new Hours of Service regulations were put into effect, targeting drowsy drivers.

Under these regulations, commercial truck drivers are strongly encouraged to drive for 11-hour periods, but are permitted to drive no more than 14 hours between 10 hour rest periods. These regulations also seek to limit the average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, down from 82 hours.

Unfortunately, trucking companies are pushing drivers harder and harder to complete their tight schedules and meet strict deadlines. This means that many drivers may feel compelled to drive past their maximum allowable hours—or may even be outright pressured to do so by their company. It isn’t uncommon for trucking companies or drivers to modify driving logs to appear compliant with the law, when the reality is that the driver is spending far more hours behind the wheel than is safe. When these laws are broken, trucking companies can be fined $11,000 for every offense, while drivers may be subject to civil penalties up to $2,750 for each offense. Unless they are caught, however, many companies and drivers get away with these unsafe practices.

Getting Justice for Victims of Drowsy Truck Drivers

Trucking accidents are nearly always devastating, and it can be even more so when you learn that the truck driver who caused the accident violated the law. If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, or if you’ve lost a loved one to an accident involving a commercial truck, our team at Donati Law, PLLC is here to help.

We can thoroughly investigate the accident and look for signs of negligence on the part of the trucking company or the driver. There are many sources of evidence we can utilize to build your case, including black box recordings of the trucks controls, driver logs, traffic cameras, E-Z pass toll records, and more. We will gather all the evidence we can to create a strong case and we will advocate tirelessly for your best interests.

With more than 150 years of collective experience, our Memphis personal injury attorneys are well-equipped to handle even the most complex semi-truck accident cases. Schedule a consultation with our legal team to discuss how we can assist you in recovering the compensation you deserve.

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