Drivers in Illinois are probably aware that drowsy driving leads to accidents but may not be aware that the number is at least 100,000 annually in this country. When drivers fall asleep at the wheel, they can injure themselves by going off the road and injuring other drivers and pedestrians by swerving into the other lane. When the vehicle is a commercial truck, the injuries that result can be catastrophic and even fatal.
Commercial truck drivers are at the highest risk for drowsy driving. There are several reasons behind this. Truckers work long hours and face tight deadlines. Their employers may even pressure them into working without rest breaks in order to deliver their cargo. Some companies offer bonuses and other incentives to get truckers to deliver ahead of schedule.
Unfortunately, this often means that truck drivers ignore the hours of service rules instituted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The FMCSA allows truckers carrying cargo to drive a maximum of 11 consecutive hours, and other commercial drivers are allowed to work a 14-hour schedule. Truckers must not begin a shift without taking 10 off-duty hours. They must also take a break within the first eight hours of duty.
Drowsy driving resembles drunk driving in several ways. Drivers suffer from impaired judgment and reaction times, and whatever attention they pay to the road will be compromised as they focus on keeping awake. Ultimately, rest is the only prevention method available.
Driver fatigue can provide victims of truck accidents with the grounds for an injury claim. It can also prompt families to file wrongful death suits. In either case, it’s important that victims or their families have legal representation because the trucking company will do everything possible to deny a settlement. A lawyer can bring in the necessary experts to find proof of negligence and handle all negotiations, litigating as a last resort. A successful truck accident claim could cover medical bills, lost wages, vehicle damage and more.