Tens of thousands of large commercial vehicles travel hundreds of thousands of miles across Alabama, and all of the U.S., each year. Despite safety standards and protocols, auto accidents involving large trucks occur all too often. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 95,000 people across the U.S. were injured in truck accidents in 2013. Nearly 4,000 people were killed in such collisions that same year. While there are a number of factors, which contribute to trucking crashes, fatigue is a common factor.
There are driving limits in place that most commercial vehicle operators must adhere to. The purpose of these limits is generally to protect truckers, as well as the other motorists with whom they share the road. The drive time parameters for commercial vehicle drivers differ based on whether the vehicle is transporting property or passengers. Additionally, the amount of time truckers have been off duty prior to driving factors into their driving limits. In general, truck drivers hauling property have either an 11-hour, or a 14-hour, drive time limit. Commercial vehicle operators driving passenger-carrying vehicles are generally permitted to drive for 10 or 15 hours.
Even with drive time limitations, truckers may still be fatigued, or overly tired, while on the roads. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleepiness could cause truckers to experience impaired judgment, reaction times and vision. The effects of fatigue could lead to trucking accidents. Furthermore, they may have difficulty processing information and problems with their short-term memory. Fatigue can also cause truckers, and other motorists, to suffer from decreased motivation, performance and vigilance behind the wheel.
When fatigued truckers drive, the put themselves, as well as other drivers, passengers and pedestrians at risk. Those involved in collisions with large commercial vehicles often suffer serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment, and time off of work for recovery. As such, they may incur undue expenses, such as medical expenses and lost wages. People who have experienced situations such as this may benefit from consulting with an attorney to discuss their options for seeking financial compensation for their damages.