DUI and Fatigued Driving Truck Accident
Drowsy driving and driving under the influence is a known risk of operating any vehicle. The risk of an accident is greatly increased when a driver is sleepy, fatigued, drunk, or under the influence of any drugs. Unfortunately, these risks are greatly increased when a driver is operating a vehicle as large and heavy as a truck. It’s also, sadly, very common for truck drivers to experience fatigue or driving under the influence. When this happens, they need to be held liable for accidents and injuries that they cause.
If you or a loved one is injured in a truck accident involving a drunk or fatigued driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. The truck accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Samer Habbas can help. With multiple offices located in Irvine, Anaheim, Los Angeles, El Segundo, Riverside, and San Diego, our truck accident attorneys represent injured victims across California. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with an accident attorney, please call 949-727-9300.
What Causes Truck Driver Fatigue?
Because of their schedules and deadlines, it’s very common for truck drivers to experience extreme fatigue after spending hours behind the wheel. It can be dangerous to drive continuously without taking a break. Despite regulations put in place to prevent drivers from overworking, it still happens often. Truckers experiencing fatigue, particularly near the end of their shifts, are very dangerous on the road and can all too easily cause an accident. Other factors can also increase the odds of driver fatigue.
Driving While Under The Weather
Truck drivers’ schedules do not always allow them to take breaks throughout the day, even when they’re feeling fatigued from illness. For this reason, many truckers drive despite being sick, increasing the chance of an accident.
Medications and Driving
Aside from illnesses that may cause fatigue in drivers, many medications also cause severe drowsiness, leading to accidents.
Working Double Shifts
It is common for truckers to continue driving at all hours, especially if they are able to trade-off with another driver to deliver their cargo on time. Changes in schedules, particularly if they are unplanned, can cause drivers to work during hours when they would normally be sleeping. Some schedule changes will require drivers to have work their shifts back to back without any breaks.
Driving While Under The Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
Unfortunately, it’s very common for truck drivers to consume excessive amounts of alcohol, even when they have to drive. Since the United States has the highest rate of drunk drivers, it has even more truck drivers who drink than other countries. Inebriation not only slows down a driver’s ability to react, but it also increases the risk of fatigue behind the wheel. This includes inebriation from both alcohol and consumption of other types of drugs.
In many cases, truck drivers are compensated by the mile instead of how much time they spend driving. Therefore, many of them will make the decision to keep driving, even as fatigue sets in. Moreover, the pressure placed on drivers to deliver cargo in a timely manner is a very real reason why so many truck drivers choose to drive when they know they should be taking a break to sleep.
The Effects of Truck Driver Fatigue
It is all too easy for fatigued drivers to cause problems on the road. Shockingly, many truck drivers fall asleep behind the wheel. Driving safely while fatigued simply isn’t possible, and a driver may cause injury or death after dozing off behind the wheel. Fatigued driving can be just as dangerous as operating a truck under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As a matter of fact, in many ways, fatigue has similar effects on the brain to being inebriated. Drivers who are drowsy often have difficulty paying attention to the road, as well as experiencing severely reduced reaction times.
Slower Reaction Time
The skills of a truck driver are essential to avoid accidents on the road, especially when faced with hazards. Like drunken drivers, drowsy drivers may not be able to react quickly to hazards. Fatigued truck drivers may exacerbate accidents near them since they cannot react fast enough to keep the truck from colliding with the accident scene. Failure to adjust adequately to changing road conditions could also mean a trucker doesn’t see another vehicle pulling out, fails to adjust their speed, or drifts off the road or into another motorist driving in an adjacent lane.
In addition, blind spots are already a problem for truck drivers who operate big vehicles. Their size consumes more road space and stopping and maneuvering properly also require more space. With these factors in mind, it’s easy to see how drowsy or inebriated drivers can significantly increase their chances of causing serious accidents by failing to pay attention to their surroundings.
Poor Decision Making, Lack of Common Sense
Drivers who are inebriated or drowsy also have difficulty making quick decisions, particularly in uncommon situations where fast reactions are required. Drivers must make quick decisions to maintain the safety of themselves and other motorists on the road. Drivers have to make decisions when changing lanes, adapting to different weather conditions, maintaining a correct speed, or responding to changing traffic signals. A potential accident requires them to make quick judgment calls and act swiftly, which they simply can’t do efficiently if tired or inebriated.
Factors That Influence Truck Driver Fatigue
- Time: Understandably, driving at night is a more dangerous time for truck drivers, even those who have adapted to working night shifts. Fatigue-related accidents are more likely to occur at night. Despite the fact that fewer cars travel at night, truckers are more likely to be involved in accidents due to being tired and an inability to see the road as well as they would during the day.
- Lack of Sleep: The cognitive ability of drivers who have been awake for over 18 hours is greatly diminished. An individual who has been awake for over 18 hours is considered to have a BAC of 0.08%, which exceeds the legal limit in the U.S. In fact, fatigue is so dangerous that a truck driver who is on the road after not sleeping for 18 hours or more represents the same level of danger as a drunk driver.
- Sleep Disorders: Sleep disorders go undiagnosed far more regularly than people may expect. An untreated sleep disorder like sleep apnea greatly increases the chances of causing a fatigue-related accident.
- Changing shifts and schedules: The majority of truck drivers don’t have any set schedule, since their job revolves around delivering cargo when and where it’s needed. Because of inadequate rest between shifts, changing schedules can all too easily mean drivers are on the road when they would usually be sleeping, causing fatigue.
Liability in Fatigued or Inebriated Truck Driver Accidents
In order to determine liability in a truck accident, victims should seek the help of a professional attorney in order to get the compensation they deserve. The following persons may be responsible for your injuries and damages after a truck accident:
- Truck drivers
- Truck owners or trucking companies
- Anyone who leases a truck from a truck owner
- Manufacturers are responsible for making the vehicle or any of the parts that may fail and cause an accident
- Any persons or company is responsible for the correct loading of cargo
It is the responsibility of truck drivers and trucking companies to prevent accidents from occurring due to reckless driving, improper truck maintenance, poor cargo loading, or any other conditions that pose a danger to other motorists. Drivers spend countless hours behind the wheel and need to drive safely to keep everyone protected from catastrophic accidents. Irresponsible drivers must be held accountable for traffic accidents, especially those caused by drowsy or inebriated driving.
Contact an Experienced California Truck Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been in a truck accident involving a drunk or fatigued driver in California, you should discuss your legal options with an attorney as you may be entitled to compensation. The California personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates can then help determine if you have a valid accident claim.
With multiple offices located in Irvine, Anaheim, Los Angeles, El Segundo, San Diego, and Riverside, our truck accident lawyers represent victims across California. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys, please call 949-727-9300.