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Driver Fatigue

Savannah Truck Accident Attorneys Gather Evidence of Driver Fatigue

Lack of sleep is often a key factor in truck driver negligence 

There’s an old alertness trick that truck drivers supposedly used to stay awake during long hauls. They’d keep a lit cigarette between their fingers, so that if they drifted off to sleep, it would burn down to their hand and wake them up — hopefully before a crash. Whether that is fact or myth, driver fatigue during long hauls is an ever-present danger. At Owens & Mulherin in Savannah, our truck accident lawyers have helped Georgia residents recover damages for injuries sustained in accidents caused by truckers being too tired to operate their vehicles safely. We’re ready to put our skill and experience to work for you.

Consequences of truck driver fatigue

A 2007 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that about 13 percent of truck drivers involved in accidents were fatigued at the time. Fatigue slows a driver’s reactions to traffic and road conditions. It also diminishes awareness and judgment. Traffic analysts claim that being awake for 18 hours can reduce driving capability to the same extent as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent. 

Impairment by fatigue is especially dangerous for commercial truck drivers, because their vehicles have less maneuverability and require greater time to stop and to execute movements, such as lane changes. When a driver’s reaction time is reduced, the likelihood of a crash increases substantially. Due to the size and weight of commercial trucks, accidents can result in catastrophic damage to other vehicles and their occupants.

Factors contributing to dangerous truck driver fatigue

Long-haul trucking is an exhausting occupation and several factors can exacerbate the problem, such as:

  • Beginning a trip without sufficient rest
  • Being out of sync with natural circadian rhythm (wake/sleep cycle)
  • Nighttime driving 
  • Sleep inertia, a temporary disorientation and decline in performance shortly after waking from a nap
  • Poor diet contributing to fatigue
  • Putting in a long workday before getting behind the wheel
  • Medication-induced drowsiness, such as from cold and allergy tablets
  • Ignoring the signs of drowsiness and failing to pull over for a rest
  • Reliance on alertness tricks, such as smoking, turning up the radio, drinking coffee and opening the window.

Drivers must be vigilant and exercise self-care, but they might also come under pressure from employers to keep to unreasonable delivery schedules.

Trucking regulations and fault for accidents

The FMCSA promulgates regulations for common carriers that include hours-of-service restrictions designed to keep fatigued drivers off the road. These rules limit the number of hours a driver can spend consecutively behind the wheel, as well as the number of hours a driver can work at nondriving tasks before beginning a trip. However, trucking companies sometimes ignore these limitations, and truck drivers are often not in a position to refuse requests from their employers. 

Fortunately, trucking companies are required to log hours for drivers, and our attorneys can subpoena these records once we’ve initiated a lawsuit. A regulatory violation is not definitive proof of liability for personal injury. But evidence that a driver was almost certainly fatigued can help prove negligence, since the standard is “by a preponderance of the evidence,” not “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Legal recourse for victims of fatigued trucker crashes

Trucking companies and their insurers have substantial legal resources and their attorneys defend claims aggressively. If you are seriously injured in a truck accident, you cannot expect to obtain full value for your claim without retaining an experienced truck accident lawyer. Our firm is ready to assert your right to win the full compensation you deserve.

Contact our experienced Savannah trucking accident lawyers

Owens & Mulherin in Savannah provides trustworthy personal injury representation for victims of Georgia trucking accidents. Call us today at 912-212-2100 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. 

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Wilbur D. Owens Attorney Photo
Wilbur D. Owens

Mr. Owens devotes his practice exclusively to representing plaintiffs in personal injury and wrongful death claims. His primary focus is automobile/tractor-trailer accidents, dog bites, slip/trip and falls, medical malpractice, injuries from dangerous products, job injuries and nursing home abuse. Before joining forces with Mr. Mulherin to open Owens & Mulherin in 2001, Mr. Owens worked…

Joseph A. Mulherin Attorney Photo
Joseph A. Mulherin

Mr. Mulherin represents individuals in personal injury cases. His primary practice areas are automobile accidents, tractor-trailer collisions, medical malpractice claims and workplace injuries. Before forming Owens & Mulherin with Mr. Owens in 2001, Mr. Mulherin practiced at Bouhan, Williams & Levy, LLP, from 1984 - 2000, representing both plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury cases.…

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