Semi-trucks are an important part of interstate commerce in our nation, but it is not unusual for truck drivers to take risks while on the road. For example, truckers in Pennsylvania may be financially incentivized to make as many deliveries as possible as quickly as possible.
This could lead them to spend long hours on the road, leading to truck driver fatigue. However, drowsy driving is a major factor in many truck accidents. In fact, the Large Truck Crash Causation Study found that 13% of accidents involving commercial motor vehicles involved a truck driver who was fatigued when the collision occurred.
A person’s system is naturally fatigued at night from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. and again in the afternoon from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. During these natural “lulls” a trucker can be especially sleepy which could negatively affect their performance and alertness, leading to truck accidents. This fatigue is increased if the trucker has been driving for many hours in a row.
Fatigue could also be enhanced if a driver is hungry. Hunger in combination with drowsiness can slow down a trucker’s reaction time and affect the trucker’s ability to pay attention to the road and make quick judgments. It could even affect a trucker’s awareness of his or her surroundings as well as cause memory lapses. This could lead to a truck accident.
Also, certain prescription and over-the-counter medications have sleepiness as a side-effect, which could also reduce a trucker’s ability to drive safely. In fact, one study reports that 17 percent of truckers involved in truck accidents admitted to having consumed an over-the-counter medication when the collision occurred.
As this shows, there are many ways that truckers could breach their legal duty to drive safely. They may commit traffic violations, spend too many hours on the road, neglect their health or be under the influence of dangerous medications. In these circumstances, they could easily cause a truck accident. If that accident injures or kills another person, this may constitute negligence and the truck driver and possibly the truck company they work for could face liability for the crash.