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A Deadly Habit: The Dangers of Truck Driver Fatigue

FatigueSleep is an integral part of our daily routine that we often overlook. With today’s busy schedules, more and more Americans are quick to stay awake an extra hour to squeeze in every bit of awake time during the day. Sleeplessness is a dangerous habit to get into, however, as sleep is just as essential to our physical and mental health as proper diet and exercise.

A lack of sleep severely impairs reaction time and motor skills, which makes a sleepy driver behind the wheel just as impaired as someone driving drunk. When a significant portion of a driver's life is on the road behind the wheel of a semi-truck, he or she is obligated to operate at his or her best at all times, for both the safety of himself or herself as well as the safety of surrounding vehicles. Still, when duty calls, many truck drivers neglect to get enough shut-eye, resulting in a staggering amount of truck accidents.

Sleep Deprivation is a Way of Life

Most truckers are paid based on miles and efficiency, rather than on an hourly basis. This payment schedule encourages truckers to push themselves beyond the recommended driving times to earn bigger paychecks. Not to mention that professional drivers must deliver by their designated load times, which varies wildly. It is nearly impossible to regulate a sleep schedule with sporadic delivery times. Most of the time, when a driver can finally settle in for sleep, much of the 10-hour federally mandated rest period is gone. Even the very culture by which they are surrounded encourages more work and less sleep. The driver motto in the truck driving industry is, “Drive when you have to, sleep when you can.”

How We Can Protect Ourselves

Other than purchasing a cup of coffee for every truck driver we come across, there are defensive maneuvers that can be taken to reduce the risk of a catastrophic truck accident. Consider the following best practices:

  • Be vigilant for erratic driving behaviors or swaying;
  • Give semi-trucks the right-of-way;
  • Avoid traveling alongside a big rig;
  • Do not change lanes abruptly;
  • Use turn signals;
  • Refrain from tailgating;
  • Drive at a safe speed for the weather conditions; and
  • Stay out of a driver’s blind spot. Furthermore, if you cannot see him or her in the mirrors, then he or she cannot see you.
Get Legal Defense

Accidents due to truck driver fatigue are entirely preventable. If you or a loved one sustained injury due to a negligent truck driver, a San Jose truck accident injury attorney can help. Semi-truck accidents can often cause catastrophic injuries and overwhelming damages, and the trucking company’s insurer is not trying to help you. In fact, the insurance company’s adjusters will manipulate the facts of your case to their advantage so they do not have to pay. At Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P., we will defend your rights and help you earn the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (408) 289-1417 to find out how we can help in a free consultation

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