Truck Driver Fatigue: A Deadly Danger

Truck Driver Fatigue: A Deadly Danger

Truck Driver Fatigue: A Deadly Danger

By Jan Hoen

At Hampton Injury Law PLC, we know Virginia is a heavily trafficked state as far as trucks are concerned. Innumerable trucks pass along through the state’s highways and state roads as they transport their cargo to one of the many destinations accessible by driving through Virginia. The only issue that arises with said truck drivers is when they do not operate their vehicles safely. When truck accidents occur, they are often quite serious due to the sheer size of the truck, and the relatively minuscule passenger vehicles often involved in truck accidents are crushed or demolished by the force of the impact. Thus, safety among truck drivers when operating their large vehicles is of paramount concern. 

While one may think distracted driving or intoxication may be the major cause of most truck driver errors leading to accidents, that is actually not the case. The most common cause of trucking accidents for commercial truckers is actually driver fatigue. It is a deadly danger for all those who use the same roadways as commercial truckers, and drivers must be aware of this risk so to drive defensively in consideration of the potential risk that a truck driver may not operate his vehicle with reasonable safety due to this commonly experienced encumbrance by truck drivers in the commercial freight industry. 

In 2020 alone, there were 2,356 accidents involving large trucks in Virginia. Fifty-eight of those truck accidents were considered fatal crashes. Only 27% of these fatalities from these 2020 truck accidents involved the occupants of the large commercial truck. This is a grim reminder of how deadly truck accidents can be for people driving passenger cars who are unfortunate enough to become victims of a truck accident on the road. The problem goes well beyond Virginia too. About 5,000 people die nationwide in large truck crashes every year, accounting for 14% of all United States crash fatalities.

Why Truck Drivers are Fatigued

Truck drivers log long hours driving down America’s roadways, traversing thousands of miles each week to make their deliveries. They have stringent deadlines and expansive distances they have to travel to meet them on time. This often includes driving for long hours in a single day without sleep. It is often a long way in between truck stops. Even when reaching one, choosing to stop means potentially falling behind on reaching the intended destinations truck drivers must reach by a set deadline in order to drop off the cargo punctually. Thus, many truck drivers choose to drive while under the influence of sleep deprivation. 

This is phrased as “under the influence” because sleep deprivation is quite similar in its effect on driving to being intoxicated. When sleep-deprived, a driver’s motor skills falter, vision blurs, judgment lapses, and overall cognition and alertness regress, all impeding a truck driver’s capacity to drive safely and carefully. This leads to poor driving behavior, or better said, dangerous driving. 

While it is difficult to completely account for exactly how many truck accidents are caused by fatigued driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that fatigue and drowsiness play a role in 56,000 truck accidents each year nationwide, resulting in 40,000 injuries and over 1,500 fatalities.

At Hampton Injury Law PLC, we have experience representing those who have been the victims of truck accidents caused by the truck driver’s fatigue. When such negligent driving leads to you suffering a personal injury in a trucking accident, you need to contact our Virginia personal injury attorneys. Go online today to visit our website and set up a free consultation for your personal injury claim!

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