Fatigued or Drowsy driving is a deadly problem and one of the leading causes of 18 wheeler accidents. Data collected by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2014 indicated that as many as 83,000 accidents each year are the result of fatigued or drowsy driving. These accidents caused 846 deaths and more than 37,000 injuries. Fatigued or Drowsy driving also caused an estimated 45,000 accidents which caused only property damage. In 2005, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Study examined the dangers of fatigued or drowsy driving. AAA concluded that roughly 7% of all vehicular accidents and 16.5% of fatal crashes are the result of drowsy driving behaviors.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) notes that accidents involving large trucks are rising rapidly. In 2014, the number of commercial vehicles involved in fatal accidents increased was 3,749. By 2015, that number rose to 4,050. This 8% increase is among the fastest increases recorded in the history of the country. Fatigued and Drowsy driving is one of the leading causes of these increases. The only "bright" spot on the data is that the number of injuries caused by these accidents decreased from approximately 88,000 to 87,000.
There are many factors which lead to fatigued or drowsy driving accidents involving commercial vehicles. These include long hours of operation, tight schedules that encourage drivers to operate vehicles in a sleep deprived condition, while working in monotonous working conditions. In many cases, it is a deadly combination of many different factors that leads to an 18 wheeler accident. However, what is common is the effect of sleep deprivation on the driver's ability to safely operate their 18 wheeler. Data gathered by the National Sleep Foundation shows that being awake for 18 consecutive hours has the same effect on motor functions and mental reasoning as having a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 or greater. This makes sleep deprivation as deadly a problem as drunk driving. Similar to drunk drivers, drowsy drivers pay less attention to the road, have significantly reduced reaction time, and have considerably less ability to make reasoned decisions while operating a motor vehicle.
Regulators are attempting to stem the problem of drowsy commercial truck drivers. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules have been amended to reduce the possibility of an 18 wheeler accident. For drivers carrying goods, these rules include 11-hour driving limits following 10 consecutive off duty hours, mandatory rest breaks, and a requirement that drivers take at least 34 or more consecutive hours off each week. For drivers with sleeper berths, they are required to take at least 8 consecutive hours off.
Drowsy commercial drivers who cause an 18 wheeler accident are liable for the personal injuries, property damage, and wrongful deaths their actions cause. Brad Pistotnik can pursue claims for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, diminished lifetime earning capacity, and wrongful death. Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in and pursue claims for accidents involving commercial vehicles that occurred in Abiline, Winfield, Salina, Wichita, Overland Park, Lawrence, Garden City or anywhere in Kansas. As with all vehicular accidents, it is important not to delay pursuit of a claim. The sooner evidence is gathered, testimony compiled, and the case adjudicated, the sooner you can receive the funds necessary to move forward with your life following a potential life-changing 18 wheeler accident.
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