According to a recent report, accidents related to sleep deprivation cost more than $40 billion annually. The same study indicates that motor vehicle accidents related to fatigue, drowsy driving, and falling asleep at the wheel are not only common – they are underestimated. It seems that many of the drivers we will face today on the road are sleepy; all too many are driving big, heavily loaded, 18-wheel truck rigs.
Shocking Statistics Related to Sleepy Driving
While a sleepy truck driver can easily pass a Breathalyzer test, his or her driving skills may only be on par with a driver who has had more than a few cocktails. Indeed, according to national studies:
- Truck drivers with 28 hours of sleep deprivation had deficits in performance accuracy and reaction time that are equivalent to drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.10 percent: That’s above the legal limit.
- Where a driver is awake during the daytime for more than 16 hours, his or her psychomotor performance deficits increase to levels equivalent to BACs between 0.05 and 0.1 percent.
- Increased time awake, reduced sleep duration, prolonged driving, and the use of medications to stay awake have all been found to contribute to fatigue-related motor vehicle accidents.
- Sleepiness-related motor vehicle crashes have a fatality rate and injury severity level similar to alcohol-related crashes. In fact, according to a study by Caterpillar, sleepy truck drivers cause as many as 1,200 deaths and 78,000 injuries on U.S. highways each year.
DWS (Driving While Sleepy) is as Dangerous as DUI
The lesson: Driving while sleepy is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Medical studies indicate that sleepy truck drivers experience:
- Mood swings – irritability, false aggression, and other “mood” factors that can lead to dangerous, aggressive driving
- Poor decision-making – a sleepy driver may unwittingly take risks that an alert driver would clearly avoid
- Decreased attention span – one of the most dangerous aspects of sleep deprivation, the truck driver can lose interest in what is happening around him or her
- Impaired vision – aside from being disinterested, the driver may just not see the hazard ahead
U.S. Department of Transportation is Aware of the Problem
Acknowledging the problems caused by sleep-deprived truck drivers, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have enacted rules to regulate the number of hours that truckers may drive per day and per week. Currently, truckers are bound by the following limitations:
- They may not drive more than 11 hours in any day.
- They may not work more than 70 hours each week (the former limit was 82 hours).
- They are required to take a 30-minute break with the first 8 hours of a work shift.
Even With Federal Rules, Sleep Deprived-Drivers Still Cause Accidents
In spite of these efforts to limit the number of hours that truck drivers can operate 18-wheelers on the road, sleepy drivers cause accidents. Try to remember the last time you drove 11 hours in a single day. Now think of the effects of doing that for six or seven straight days while managing a heavy rig.
Have You Been Involved in a Truck Accident?
Have you or a family member been involved in an accident involving a truck? Recognize that the trucking company and its insurer have an army of attorneys on their side. You need a strong, aggressive, experienced legal team on your own. At the Law Offices of B. Clarke Nash, P.C., you will have strong and aggressive counsel. Clarke isn’t a TV face who employs a staff of case managers to handle his cases; he provides one-on-one attention to your claim. When you call the office to check on your case, you can discuss the situation with Clarke himself. Clarke once worked for the insurance companies; he knows how they operate and what motivates them. He has office availability throughout the state of Georgia. Contact the Law Offices of B. Clarke Nash, P.C. by telephone at (912) 200-5292 to schedule a consultation today.