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Arnold & Itkin LLP Truck Accident Blog2015DecemberSleep Deprived Truckers Continue to Cause Accidents

Sleep Deprived Truckers Continue to Cause Accidents

In 2012, over 10.6 million commercial trucks occupied the national highway system. That number is estimated to have increased every year since. Not surprisingly, the number of fatal truck accidents has risen over the years as well.

Many of these accidents have been caused by sleep deprived truck drivers who push their physical limits in order to meet stringent deadlines. Sleep deprivation affects normal brain functions in a variety of ways, making truck drivers who get behind the wheel without enough sleep particularly dangerous to other motorists on the road. Thousands of people across the country have been victims of sleep-related truck accidents in recent years.

Fatal Truck Accident Statistics

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that:

  • Since 2012, 3,802 people have died in collisions with large commercial trucks.
  • The number of deaths increased by nearly 600 compared to 3 years earlier.

In a study done by the Department of Transportation, the following statistics were recorded:

  • At least 13% of such accidents were attributed to drowsy or tired driving.
  • As much as 28% of truck drivers could have sleep apnea.
  • As many as 1,500 deaths and 40,000 injuries likely occur due to drowsy driving.

Because truck drivers are unlikely to admit to driving on a lack of sleep, that estimate could be dramatically low.

FMCSA Hours of Service Regulations

In an effort to reduce the number of sleep-related truck accidents, the FMCSA put restrictions on the number of hours truck drivers are permitted to drive. Those restrictions, which went into effect in 2013, limited the number of hours a truck driver could be on the road during a work week to 70. Additionally, drivers would be required to take at least one 30 minute break after 8 hours of driving. The rule also required truck drivers to take a "34 hour restart" before beginning a new work week.

Earlier this month, those restrictions were suspended by Congress after much protest from the trucking industry. The suspension will be in effect until September 30, 2015 while the Department of Transportation studies the impact that the restart provisions had on reducing trucking accidents.

While the rules are being reviewed, it is more important than ever for truck drivers to exercise caution when behind the wheel. If you or a loved one were injured by a fatigued driver, it is important to talk to a qualified legal advocate.

Reach out to Arnold & Itkin today to discuss your case. We are here to help.

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