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Drowsiness and commercial drivers

Most readers in Jasper, and elsewhere, have been drowsy at one point or another in their lifetimes. While this sleepy state that immediately precedes sleep is typically just an indication that slumbers are near, drowsiness can be highly dangerous for drivers. In a recent report by the New York Times, it was reported that driving while drowsy is one of the leading causes of highway crashes, many of which involve large commercial vehicles.

Of all the motorists who travel the roads and highways throughout the U.S. every day, commercial drivers and truckers are among those most at risk for driving while drowsy or fatigued. This can be attributed to any number of factors, including untreated sleep disorders, lack of adequate sleep, nighttime driving or the use of sedating medications.

The dangers of falling asleep at the wheel are somewhat obvious, but the effects of drowsy driving are somewhat less widely known. For some drivers, the effects of drowsiness can be similar to those of alcohol intoxication. These effects include slowed reaction times and reflexes, impaired decision-making, and reduced attentiveness to their surroundings and the task of driving, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Like the effects of intoxication, the effects of drowsy driving can, and often do, contribute to causing motor vehicle accidents, including truck accidents.

In an effort to reduce the danger and increase safety for commercial drivers, there are regulations in place. The New York Times reports that the federal rules governing truckers prohibit them from driving more than 70 hours per week. In between workweeks, commercial drivers must have a 34-hour resting period, which includes two periods between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Additionally, truckers are limited to 11 hour workdays. Violations of these regulations, which are made easier with traditional paper trucking logs, may contribute to the continued occurrence of drowsy or fatigue-related accidents.

When people who have been injured in auto accidents involving tractor-trailers believe that drowsiness may have been a factor, it is common for them to consider taking legal action against the negligent drivers themselves, or the companies that employ them. Working with an attorney can help such victims understand their rights and how to go about pursuing damages for their losses. 

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