Drowsy driving is a serious issue that affects drivers more frequently than one might imagine. The National Safety Council (NSC) cited that in the past year, about half of U.S. adult drivers get behind the wheel of their vehicles while feeling drowsy. In fact, more than 40% of adult drivers admitted that they fell asleep while driving at least once during their driving careers.
When a driver allows themselves to operate their vehicle while feeling fatigued, the NSC says they increase their chances of engaging in an accident by three times. And when a driver goes more than 20 hours without sleep, their condition is comparable to someone with a blood-alcohol concentration level of 0.08%, which is the same as being legally impaired.
While it is evident that driving fatigued is dangerous to all motorists, even pedestrians and bicyclists, drivers continue to make the mistake of getting behind the wheel when feeling tired. Truck drivers in particular are more susceptible to driving while fatigued as they spend most of their days on the road. And because driving can be taxing on the mind and body, truckers are required to adhere to the hours-of-service rules.
What are the Hours-of-Service Rules?
The hours-of-service rules outline how long a truck driver can physically be behind the wheel of a truck in one single shift. They also outline how long of a break a trucker must take in between shifts. Although driving beyond what the hours of services rules permits is a violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) safety regulations and also risky, truckers tend to do it for one of the following reasons:
- Their employer is requiring them to complete a job, even if it means they must drive for a period that exceeds what the hours-of-service rules permits.
- They are eager to earn more money and want to get a job done.
- They worry they could lose their job if they don’t get their load to or from its destination and therefore, continue driving.
- They have to meet a deadline.
If a truck driver decides to operate their vehicle while in a state of feeling fatigued and causes an accident, they and even their employer could be held financially liable for any damage they cause, especially if they were driving longer than what the hours-of-service rules allow.
Steps to Take After Engaging in an Accident with a Fatigued Truck Driver
If an individual was recently involved in a truck accident in Seattle that was caused by drowsy driving, a Seattle, WA truck accident lawyer can determine who the liable parties are and hold them accountable for their careless behavior. Truck accident cases are among some of the more complex types of cases lawyers take on and therefore, it is especially important for a victim to retain an attorney who has extensive experience with handling these types of cases who isn’t afraid to fight for a favorable outcome.