Thirteen percent of semi truck accidents are due to truck driver fatigue. Drivers fall asleep at the wheel or become less responsive to danger because driving longer hours and taking shorter breaks increases truck driver incomes. Trucker fatigue is also often blamed on the shippers instead of the truckers themselves - companies want their merchandise as soon as possible, and often pressure truck drivers to drive long after the conditions are safe. Trucker fatigue can also lead to prescription and non-prescription drug abuse among truck drivers - two habits that can also lead to serious injuries and highway accidents.
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Even though there are a number of federal regulations to curb truck driver fatigue and lower the rate of truck accident injuries and truck-related fatalities, it is still a substantial problem that shatters the lives of many families across America each year. In fact, it is estimated by the US Department of Transportation that 8,000 large truck crashes a year are due to tired drivers.
One challenge to winning a truck driver fatigue case is proving that the driver was indeed tired and not fit to drive at the time of the accident, and that his sleepiness was the main cause of the accident. There are several way to do this:
- The driver may admit to being tired at the time of the accident - either to witnesses at the scene or to the police during the initial questioning.
- The driver may appear fatigued to police or witnesses, even if he does not admit that this is the reason for the accident. He might have bloodshot eyes. He might not be fully alert.
- A review of the driver's road log could add insight into whether or not he was fit to drive at the time of the accident. The Motor Carrier Safety Regulations permit only a certain number of hours of active duty in a certain time span before the driver should be off the road for safety reasons.
If you think that the truck driver that caused your car accident was suffering from fatigue, you should call a knowledgeable and specialized lawyer immediately. Proving fatigue often means connecting and analyzing a wide range of sources - including the driver's log, the truck's maintenance records, the driver's history, and the witness reports. Only a lawyer will be able to accurately tell you if your case holds enough water for recovery.