Commercial truck drivers typically work long hours over a period of several days to keep on schedule with their deliveries. The time differences in various parts of the country, inclement weather conditions, and tight schedules often result in limited time for restful sleep. Drowsy and fatigued driving results in serious and sometimes fatal truck accidents.
Truck accidents often result in fatalities when they involve passenger cars, vans, and trucks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates an average of 500,000 trucking accidents each year in the United States resulting in approximately 5,000 deaths annually. Thousands more are seriously injured in these accidents.
Fighting Fatigue Behind the Wheel
Time is money and the stress of delivering cargo according to schedule is enormous in the trucking industry. Truck drivers delayed by traffic, inclement weather conditions, and mechanical problems often fight fatigue to deliver their goods on time. Some of the dangerous ways they fight their fatigue include:
- Stimulants: While a strong cup of coffee or a double shot of espresso can help to improve alertness for a short time, regular use of stimulants is not an effective strategy for fighting fatigue. Some truck drivers resort to stronger illegal stimulants such as cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines to help them stay alert and focused. What they may not realize is that these drugs actually impair their driving and put everyone on the road at risk for a serious or fatal accident. Stimulants can affect cognitive and motor functioning, attention span, coordination, impulse control, and can lead to paranoia, aggression, drowsiness, and even delusions.
- Eating Fast Food: Truckers will sometimes try to distract themselves from feeling fatigued by eating. Fast food restaurants line the interstates and highways that are frequently used by truck drivers. Pulling over for a cheeseburger, fries, and a sugary drink may seem harmless, but high fat, sugary, and fried foods can actually cause drowsiness. Carbohydrates, sugar, and saturated fat levels are high in fast food, which can lead to excessively high sugar levels that cause drowsiness. Truck drivers with digestive issues can suffer from gastric disturbances that may require them to pull off the road, making their schedules tighter and their fatigue greater.
- Driver Distractions: Contrary to popular belief, turning up the radio or opening the window while driving will not prevent drowsy driving. In fact, driver distractions cause more accidents each year than driving drunk or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drivers that distract themselves to adjust radio stations or climate control buttons or use cell phones as a way to fight fatigue have a higher risk of accidents. Any action that requires a truck driver to take their eyes off the road increases the risk of serious and fatal truck accidents.
Drowsy driving is a serious threat to all those on the road. Drivers that are fatigued have slowed reaction times, decreased attention spans, lack concentration, and run the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. In a random survey, one out of four truck drivers admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel. Proper rest, good nutrition, and frequent breaks are the only safe ways to fight truck driver fatigue and ensure the safety of all those on the road.
Columbia Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Help Injured Truck Accident Victims Claim Compensation
If you have been injured in an accident with a large truck or bus, call the Columbia car accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. at 803-929-3600 or 866-881-8623, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.
We represent clients injured in wrecks throughout South Carolina, including those in the areas of Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the areas of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County