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Is fatigued driving among truckers really that big of a problem?

We recently wrote about a fatal truck accident in which one man was killed and famed comedian Tracy Morgan critically injured. The truck driver responsible for causing that accident is currently facing criminal charges after he admitted to being awake for more than 24 hours when the crash occurred.

While new trucking safety rules went into effect last summer limiting the number of hours truckers are allowed to drive and imposing mandatory sleep times, many within the trucking industry contend such rules do little to promote safe driving among truckers. In fact, some opposed to the new rules claim that mandatory sleep times may actually be contributing to more trucking accidents as truck drivers are forced to drive more in congested traffic conditions.

Most Phoenix area drivers have likely driven while fatigued. From a new parent who was tending to a newborn all night to an executive who spent the night working on a big presentation, a driver who is overly tired is more likely to become distracted, nod off or fall asleep. When an overly tired driver is behind the wheel of a large tractor trailer truck that is barreling down the freeway at 70 MPH, the risk to public safety is great.

While no one is arguing that fatigued driving is dangerous, there is debate as to how widespread the problem really is, especially amongst truckers. Based on information from a 2006 study, officials at the Department of Transportation estimate that driver fatigue is a factor in approximately 13 percent of trucking accidents. However, officials within the trucking industry claim that the number is much lower with an estimated 7 percent of trucking accidents involving an overly tired driver.

Unlike alcohol or drug use, there is no test to determine whether or not a truck driver was overly fatigued at the time he or she was involved in an accident. Therefore it's highly likely that the number of fatigue-related trucking accidents may be much higher than 13 percent.

Individuals who have been directly impacted by a trucking accident may choose to discuss their case with an attorney. Individuals involved in trucking accidents often suffer serious and debilitating injuries. In many cases, fatalities occur. A personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit can help in the recovery of damages related to injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, disability and death.

Source: The New York Times, "Truckers Resist Rules on Sleep, Despite Risks of Drowsy Driving," Jad Mouawad and Elizabeth A. Harris, June 16, 2014

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