Driver fatigue results in thousands of auto accidents per year, many of which involve fatigued professional truck drivers while many others involve regular citizens who are simply too tired to responsibly operate a vehicle. If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident due to the negligence of a fatigued driver, we at Agruss Law Firm are here for you every step of the way to ensure that your rights are protected and you are fully compensated for your injuries and losses.
Fatigue increases the risk of an auto accident in a number of ways: it reduces the driver’s attentiveness, impairs reaction-times, and affects judgment and the processing of information, to name a few, and there is also the risk of actually falling asleep at the wheel, which can have serious and even fatal consequences. Here are some common circumstances in accidents which resulted from driver-fatigue:
- The accident occurred when a single vehicle left the road;
- The road had a high speed-limit;
- The accident occurred in the late night or early morning;
- The driver was alone;
- The driver made no attempt to avoid the accident;
- The driver was with relatives or close friends.
Some of the more at-risk demographics for driver-fatigue accidents include: young people ages 16 to 29; shift-workers who work long, irregular hours, especially at night; people who take sedative medications; people who have undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy; and professional truck drivers who do not get sufficient amounts of rest between drives, especially long-distance drives.
Driving while fatigued puts not only your life in danger, but also the lives of other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Fatigue is also not only a problem on its own, but an enabler for other impairments, including to judgment, reaction-time, and situational awareness, and undiagnosed/untreated medical conditions and medication for diagnosed sleep disorders can further increase these risks. The groups considered most at-risk are young/inexperienced drivers, shift workers such as heavy vehicle drivers, and drivers with sleep disorders.
Here are some improvement strategies from the National Transportation Safety Board:
- All drivers should be better educated about medical conditions and impairing medications which may affect their quality and/or duration of sleep.
- Regulators should implement medical screenings of employees in “safety-critical” positions, such as commercial truck drivers, and help commercial operators to better identify high-risk drivers.
- Interstate commercial vehicle companies should equip vehicles with logging devices which track hours of service to better monitor and assess compliance with relevant laws, as well as develop other in-vehicle technologies to help lower the risks of accidents.
- Transportation companies should establish new “fatigue-risk management programs” to reduce fatigue among their professional drivers.
Unfortunately, the problem of fatigued driving is especially alarming in the professional trucking industry, which is very competitive and often forces companies to impose strict deadlines and unrealistic expectations for the shipment and delivery of goods. To attempt to meet these expectations, vehicles are often physically overloaded and drivers may be forced to work longer hours, growing more fatigued in both the short- and long-term as a result. Many truck drivers are forced to change and modify their logs to help meet these deadlines and requirements, often in fear of losing their jobs if they object. These long shifts and merciless company standards are the primary culprits of driver fatigue, which may be the single most common cause of truck accidents. When truck drivers must choose between meeting deadlines perfectly and violating HOS requirements, they may drive faster to compensate for lost time, and this is a common risk factor for such accidents.
As we know, seven to nine hours of sleep per night are recommended, and less than four can potentially hinder one’s attentiveness when behind the wheel the next day. Driver fatigue has a wide range of causes, from acute sleep loss to lifestyle choices, personal demands, and job-related sleep restriction. In any case, drivers are responsible for getting sufficient rest so they are fully capable of operating a vehicle on the road, and they must be held legally liable when their negligence directly results in an auto accident and injuries.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident caused by an fatigued driver, contact Agruss Law Firm, LLC today for a free consultation. We are a Chicago-based personal injury law firm, and helping our clients is about counseling, advocating, and ultimately solving problems. With years of experience successfully representing the people and not the powerful, we will file your claim and take care of the insurance company, medical bills, property damage, and lost income. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you. Lastly, our personal injury lawyers are not paid attorney fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. You have nothing to risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.