Americans depend on the goods and services brought to them by large commercial trucks and the freight industry. Unfortunately, our experienced personal injury lawyers in Atlanta have seen these large, heavy trucks pose a serious danger to motorists in smaller vehicles during an accident. States like Georgia with busy metro areas including Atlanta and Valdosta become thriving hubs for the trucking industry, leading to congested roadways and an increased risk to vulnerable motorists of a catastrophic accident with a large truck.
Truck driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of commercial truck accidents. Data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that drowsy driving poses a significant crash risk, accounting for six percent of all traffic accidents and 21% of crash fatalities. The NHTSA also estimates that driver fatigue causes around 40% of commercial truck accidents.
Despite limits placed on truck driving hours by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck driver fatigue and related accidents remain a significant problem as Americans increase their reliance on online retailers. Property-carrying truck drivers may only drive for 11 hours after 10 hours off-duty. These limits are intended to allow drivers to get adequate sleep between driving shifts, but in spite of these stringent limits, driver fatigue still plays a prominent role in truck accidents due to the following reasons:
Studies show that remaining awake for 18 hours causes cognitive impairment in drivers similar to operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.08%, which is above the legal limit for DUI.
Truck accidents are often catastrophic, due to the large size and weight of commercial carriers. Jackknife accidents caused by unbalanced loads, tire blowouts, and defective truck parts all contribute to the high number of commercial truck accidents. Drowsy driving causes particularly deadly truck accidents including the following accident types:
Some innovative companies are working on producing technology such as eye-to-face tracking systems for truck cabs that detect a dozing driver and activate alarms and vibrations to awaken them. However, it may take years before these technologies are widely available and implemented.
When injuries occur in a commercial truck accident, Atlanta truck accident attorneys have handled cases in which the individual driver or the trucking company is at fault and bears liability in cases of drowsy driving causing an accident. The trucking company has direct liability if they caused or allowed a driver to work beyond their limited hours to meet unreasonable deadlines or if they failed to implement protocols to prevent drivers from inaccurately or falsely logging their driving hours.
When a truck driver or negligent trucking company contributes to an accident caused by fatigued driving, they are responsible for damages including the accident victim’s medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. Some negligence-related truck accidents result in wrongful death lawsuits to compensate surviving family members for their loss.
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