What concerns you about the conduct of other drivers? Do you worry about people driving while using their cell phone? What about driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs? Are those who speed and dart in and out of traffic your primary concern? What about confused motorists who brake or stop in the middle of heavy traffic simply because they do not know where they are going?
Everyone has concerns about the actions of others and for good reason – your safety on an Illinois roadway depends in part upon your conduct and in part upon the conduct of others. But while speeding, failing to yield, and driving erratically are widely understood, few people realize how much of a threat truck driver fatigue poses to them and to those they love.
Truck driver fatigue accidents plague Chicago and the rest of our state just as they plague roads all across our country. These collision occur when the driver of a semi-truck or other large truck operate while they are tired or sleepy, limiting their ability to act in a reasonable and responsible manner and increasing the odds that they will be involved in a crash. It is hard to know exactly how many lives are affected by truck driver fatigue crashes annually but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that nearly 4,000 people die every year in large truck accidents and that driver fatigue is believed to be a leading cause in those crashes and the resulting deaths.
Fatigued drivers can be a threat in any type of vehicle but they pose a particularly deadly one when at the helm of a large truck. A typical large truck can only be operated by a motorist with a tailored license for a reason, and that reason is safety. Trucks are harder to control, take longer to start and stop, and move in sluggish ways when compared to a sleek, new passenger vehicle you may encounter on the road. This means that a driver of a truck will need to pay incredibly close attention to the roadway and will need to take evasive action immediately if a hazard presents itself. Failing to do so will make a truck more likely than a small car counterpart to cause an accident.
If a truck is involved in a crash, it is likely to do more harm than a smaller vehicle as well as a truck’s large size, weight, and forward momentum will almost always cause damage to other cars. Though passenger cars are designed to withstand the brunt of an impact, few if any can withstand a direct hit from a large truck and the passenger compartment can be compromised in response, leading to injuries and deaths among those in a smaller car.
Truck drivers are also likely to be fatigued because of the nature of their work. They often operate on a deadline to deliver their loads and may face stiff punishments if shipments are delayed. This can put pressure on a driver to ignore federal trucking laws regarding consecutive hours driven and mandatory break times, leading a driver to log more hours than wise or than legal and causing some of those hours to be driven when the driver is tired. Further, truckers are more likely to operate at night and during the dark than are private drivers and simply operating when the sun is down has been linked to tired and fatigued driving.
Tired truck drivers are a significant threat to Chicago and one that should never be overlooked. Know that though you cannot control the rest obtained by a trucker, you can make sure your rights are protected if you are the victim of an accident and you are hurt. Consulting with a personal injury attorney is a good spot to start if you are wondering about your options and whether you are entitled to financial compensation.
Prior Blog Entry:
Advice to Pick the Proper Bicycle Helmet, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published September 23 ,2106.
Why We Care About Truck Driver Fatigue, by Anthony Foxx, Transporation,gov, U.S. Department of Transportation.