Las Vegas NV Injury Lawyer Explains How Driver Fatigue Can Cause Large Truck Accidents
One of the most common causes for commercial truck accidents is driver fatigue. Driving when tired makes truck operators more likely to make a mistake and less capable of reacting to other drivers’ behavior. There are many other elements that can affect a driver’s ability to operate their vehicle, and fatigue can make the driver less able to deal with situations such as construction and bad weather. Additionally, fatigue can lead to microsleep or completely falling asleep at the wheel, which may result in an 80,000 pound semi out of control on the highway. If you have been involved in an accident as a result of driver fatigue, it’s important you speak to a Las Vegas NV injury lawyer immediately.
How Common is Driving While Fatigued?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, fatigued driving is similar to drunk driving in its effects on reaction time, decreased awareness, impaired judgement and increased risk of collision. There are many factors that lead to fatigued driving, including:
- Not enough or low quality sleep
- Long working hours
- Strenuous activity
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recognizes how widespread trucker fatigue is and attempts to decrease incidences of tired driving through rules and regulations. A study by the FMCSA found that 13% of drivers involved in a commercial truck collision were experiencing fatigue at the time of the crash but unfortunately, driving fatigue still results in accidents and it’s necessary to contact a Las Vegas NV injury lawyer if you’ve been involved in a vehicle accident. To help deter fatigued driving, the FMCSA has instated specific rules as well as warning drivers of the dangers of driving while fatigued. These regulations include:
- How many hours a trucker can be behind the wheel at a time – A driver may not operate after 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty (including non-driving time)
- How much rest or sleep a trucker must have between driving shifts – After 10 hours off duty, a driver may operate his or her vehicle for a maximum of 11 hours.
- Maintaining accurate logs of driving activity
Unfortunately, due to occupational stressors and other factors, many truck drivers violate these regulations in an attempt to get their work done as quickly as possible. In the year 2014 alone, over 250,000 incidences of hours of service violations were addressed by truck safety inspectors. Additionally, roadside checks found over 280,000 commercial drivers had falsified records or records that were not up to date in 2014. There were 49,000 violations for maximum on-duty time and 26,000 violations for maximum consecutive driving hours. This was just what was found through roadside checks, imagine how many more instances there must have been that went unnoticed! Getting hit by a semi-truck, especially due to negligence, may cause for your right of compensation. A Las Vegas NV personal injury lawyer can help determine that depending on your particular situation.
The Dangers of Driving While Fatigued
When cars and large trucks collide, the car very rarely wins the fight. When a truck driver is fatigued, there are many ways it may result in an accident, such as:
- Lane drifting – When a large semi drifts into your lane, it can scrape the side of the car or cause it to spin out or even flip over, depending on the point at which it contacts the car. Truck drivers who fall asleep at the wheel may even cross into the opposite lane of traffic, resulting in head-on collisions.
- Slowed reaction time – This is especially problematic in areas where there is construction, and there is most likely going to be construction at some point on a truck driver’s route. Obstacles, complex maneuvers, and other cars stopping ahead of a truck driver may all be more difficult for a fatigued truck driver to cope with, leading to crashes and rear-ends.
The vast difference in size and weight of cars and large trucks often results in catastrophic injuries to car drivers and passengers. Since large trucks often use highways to travel great distances, this means that collisions often happen at high speeds, increasing the chances of severe injuries and death.
Drivers that violate FMCSA rules and regulations meant to limit driver fatigue are making a conscious decision to increase the likelihood of causing an accident. When an accident does occur and the driver was fatigued, this makes them liable for injury and damage resulting from the collision. An experienced Las Vegas NV injury lawyer can determine what liabilities they may have depending on your situation.
Though truckers are often stressed by their employers to make their trips as fast as possible, this is no excuse to violate regulations and put themselves and other drivers at risk. If you or a loved one was involved in a collision with a truck, an investigation should be mounted into the cause. Of course truckers and their employers have no interest in completing an honest investigation as proving the trucker was fatigued goes against their interests. Obtaining a trucker’s log book or black box requires a court order, which must be done as soon as possible since the evidence may be lost or tampered with. A Las Vegas NV Injury lawyer can expedite this process as well as working with engineers to recreate the accident in order to demonstrate contributing factors, such as a lack of swerving or braking. When a driver doesn’t swerve or brake, this shows the driver was unaware that a crash was going to happen, indicating he or she may have been asleep or unresponsive.
It’s important to seek legal representation as soon as you can to help you get the compensation you need and deserve to cover medical costs, lost wages, and other damages. Do not speak to anyone from the trucking company’s insurance company as it may hurt your case. The insurance company wants to settle as quickly and cheaply as possible and does not have your interests in mind at all.
Contact a Las Vegas NV Injury Lawyer if You’ve Been Injured Due to Driver Fatigue
With over 15 years of experience handling personal injury cases of all sorts, you can trust that the lawyers at Harris & Harris Lawyers have the experience, resourced and dedication to bring justice to your case. Give us a call at (702) 384-1414 to speak to a Las Vegas NV injury lawyer today. You can also submit an online contact form here.