Drowsy driving is a contributing factor in tens of thousands of serious and catastrophic injuries each year. According to a Harvard School of Medicine study, there are over 1.2 million auto accidents and over 500,000 injuries that result from fatigue-related incidents. The study also found that more than 60,000 of those injuries are severe and debilitating, and approximately 8,000 of them end in death.
Drowsy driving usually happens because of lack of adequate sleep, but it can also happen because of alcohol or drugs, sleep disorders, or too many consecutive hours driving. Drowsiness and fatigue while driving is dangerous, because it slows reaction times and makes drivers pay less attention to what is happening on the road. This inhibits a driver’s ability to react properly to adverse road conditions, and it leads to other poor driving decisions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately one out of 25 drivers over the age of 18 report having fallen asleep while driving during the past 30 days. As mentioned earlier, the most common reason for this happening is not getting enough sleep. The CDC lists the following groups as most likely to drive while drowsy:
- Commercial truck and bus drivers;
- Those who work long shifts;
- Drivers who have untreated sleep disorders;
- Drivers who are taking medications that make them tired and sleepy.
Drowsy Driving in the Trucking Industry
Truck drivers are particularly susceptible to drowsy and fatigued driving. Truckers put in long hours over the road each week, and many of these hours are spent driving during evenings and overnights. A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) study also found that almost one-third of all commercial truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea, a condition that can severely impact a driver’s alertness and performance, especially if left untreated. In many cases, trucking companies do not make it any easier for their drivers to obtain the amount of rest they need. Unrealistic deadlines often leave truckers with very little choice but to stay out on the road longer than they should in order to deliver their loads on time.
Fatigued Driving and Truck Accidents
Commercial trucking accidents can result in disastrous consequences. When a tractor trailer that weighs around 80,000 pounds (when it is fully-loaded) collides with a passenger vehicle, motorcycle, bicycle, pedestrian, or another object, it can cause extensive property damage, severe injuries, and in the worst cases, fatalities. And not surprisingly, those involved in accidents with semi-trucks are 28 times more likely to be seriously injured or killed than occupants of the big rig truck.
Because of the dangers drowsy driving poses to others on the road, the trucking industry needs to do more to help ensure that their drivers get adequate rest, and that those with sleep disorders are properly treated.
Liability for Commercial Trucking Accidents
Determining who was at-fault for a big rig truck accident is not always simple and straightforward. This is because, oftentimes, there are numerous contributing factors that play a role with these types of accidents. To further complicate things, there are numerous laws and regulations that govern the trucking industry.
Drowsy driving may be one factor, but an extensive investigation may be required to prove that the driver was drowsy or fatigued when the accident occurred, which may include a review of the driver’s service logs and other evidence, such as onboard data recorders and traffic cameras.
Other factors that may contribute to a truck accident include alcohol or drugs, speeding and other forms of aggressive driving, poor road conditions, overloaded or unevenly loaded trucks, mechanical failures, and vehicle product defects. When there were multiple factors in a trucking accident, there may be several parties that share responsibility, such as:
- The truck driver;
- The trucking company;
- The owner or lessor of the truck;
- The shipping company responsible for loading the truck;
- The party responsible for maintaining the truck;
- The designer, manufacturer, or distributor of the faulty vehicle or vehicle part.
Due to the complexities typically involved with big rig accidents, it is important for those injured in these types of accidents to work with an attorney who has extensive experience in this area of the law.
Speak with a Seasoned Mississippi Truck Accident Lawyer
If you or someone close to you was seriously injured or killed in a commercial trucking accident in Biloxi or anywhere in Mississippi, call the experienced personal injury attorneys at Reeves & Mestayer at (855) 558-2977 for a free, no-obligation case assessment. You may also message us through our web contact form.