Fatigued Truck Drivers Create Big Risks

Fatigued Truck Drivers Create Big Risks

Driving while drowsy is a serious problem that can affect any driver of any kind of vehicle. But when that driver is at the wheel of a massive tractor-trailer, the consequences can be even more catastrophic.

Truck Drivers Often Drive Longer Than the Law Allows

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 65% of truckers reported feeling drowsy while driving, and studies show that driver fatigue is the cause of more than a third of fatal trucking accidents. At least 846 people died in drowsy-driving incidents in 2014, according the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

Recognizing the dangers of fatigued truck drivers, federal regulations place limits on how much time truckers may spend behind the wheel during any given stretch of time. However, economic pressures – the need to make deliveries by deadline or the desire to make more money by working longer – can cause both drivers and as well as trucking companies to skirt those rules or even falsify records.

Famously, the Walmart truck driver who caused the 2014 crash that injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed one of his friends had not slept in over 24 hours before the crash occurred, in gross violation of federal regulations.

New Rules Try to Stop Drivers From Skirting Time-On-Duty Rules

Part of the problem with drivers and carriers breaking the mandated time limits comes from the fact that records reflecting duty hours are kept on paper – as they have been since the 1930s – making them easy to falsify or alter.

To crack down on this potentially fatal fraud, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued new rules in December 2015 requiring that all commercial truck drivers to use electronic logs to record their driving hours. According to federal officials, the new electronic logs should save 26 lives a year and prevent more than 500 injury-causing truck accidents.

If you’re driving near a huge tractor-trailer on the highway, you have no idea how many hours the driver has been behind the wheel, how much sleep they’ve had recently, or if there are any other issues that may make that big-rig a bigger threat than it already is. But if you see any of these signs in a truck travelling near you, try to steer clear:

  • Swerving
  • Drifting between lanes
  • Sudden and inexplicable braking

Dallas trucking accident attorney Robert Greening or Greening Law, P.C. knows how devastating a tractor-trailer accident can be and has extensive experience and a track record of success obtaining compensation for those who have been injured or lost a loved one in a big rig accident. Please call us at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.

New Technology Seeks to Reduce Risk of Drowsy Driving Accidents

New Technology Seeks to Reduce Risk of Drowsy Driving Accidents

We hear a lot about the dangers of drunk driving and distracted driving, and rightly so. But the spotlight justifiably placed on these crucial safety issues can obscure a problem that can be just as common and equally as dangerous: drowsy driving.

100,000 Crashes Each Year

Consider these statistics:

  • According to a 2005 National Sleep Foundation survey, 60% of adult drivers – about 168 million people – say they have driven while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than one-third have actually fallen asleep at the wheel.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year, resulting in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.
  • An Australian study showed that being awake for 18 hours led to driver impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05, and .10 after 24 hours.

Whether you are driving an 18-wheeler or a Prius, if you are driving while you’re tired or fatigued, you are putting yourself, your passengers, and others on the road at an increased risk of car accidents and injuries.

In efforts to raise awareness of the issue, the National Sleep Foundation has declared November 1-8, 2015 as national Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.

Looking Into Your Eyes

In addition to focusing attention on the problem, some researchers are also attempting to develop technology that can help reduce the risks of divers falling asleep at the wheel.

Some tools have been around for a while, such as lane-departure and pre-collision warning systems that have been installed by companies like Subaru, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, and Nissan in some of their vehicles.

While existing systems focus on what is happening outside the vehicle to sense that the driver might be fatigued, new ideas focus on looking at the driver to determine whether they are at risk of drifting off.

As recently reported in PC Magazine, Volvo is developing a system that uses dashboard sensors which work with an invisible light shined on the driver to determine whether a driver’s eyes are open or shut and for how long.

Also being tested are a touch-sensitive steering wheel that can detect when a driver is loosening his grip on the wheel, and a Bluetooth headset called “Vigo” that tracks blinks and body movements to sense fatigue.

Whether through awareness, technology, or simply all of us getting a little more sleep, efforts to reduce the needless tragedies that can result from tired and fatigued driving should be encouraged and supported.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident, please give Dallas auto accident attorney Robert Greening a call at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to discuss your situation.