Signs of Truck Driver Fatigue
Truck driver fatigue is a prevalent issue in the trucking industry. Truck drivers are more likely to drive tired than the average driver due to pressures related to the job, such as long hours alone on the road and tight schedules. It may be possible to spot the signs of truck driver fatigue – and prevent a collision – if you know what to look for. If you’ve already been injured in an accident involving a drowsy truck driver in New Jersey, learn what to do next.
Warning Signs of a Drowsy or Tired Driver
Drowsy driving is caused by failing to get enough rest before operating a motor vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 700 people lost their lives in accidents related to drowsy driving in 2019. Drowsy driving is especially common among truckers due to extended hours, driving alone, overnight drives, lack of adequate sleep in sleeper berths, strenuous work activities and other factors.
If a truck driver is drowsy, he or she may show signs that are noticeable to other drivers, such as:
- Erratic braking or accelerating
- Making extended stops at red lights or stop signs
- Reacting slowly to changing roadway situations
- Reckless driving behaviors
- Drifting in and out of a lane
- Swerving or jerking the wheel
- Making multiple corrections
- Tailgating/following too closely
- Loss of control of the vehicle
If you notice any of these signs of a drowsy truck driver, keep a safe distance and call the police. Report the dangerous truck driver using the truck number and license plate number, if possible, as well as your location and the direction in which the truck is traveling. You can also use the phone number on the side of the commercial truck to report the driver to the trucking company.
Why Is Drowsy Driving Dangerous?
Drowsy driving has been compared to driving under the influence of alcohol in how it affects a driver’s ability to control a vehicle. Driving while tired impairs the senses, leading to inattention, reduced reaction times and diminished reflexes. It can also lead to confusion, disorientation and poor judgment calls behind the wheel. Drowsiness can have a physical effect on a truck driver, as well, causing dizziness, blurred vision and muscle weakness.
Drowsy driving is dangerous under any circumstances. When a driver is in control of a heavy commercial truck, however, the consequences of drowsy driving can be even more disastrous. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why a truck driver is more likely to doze off behind the wheel. For example, truck drivers are prone to sleep apnea, a condition that interrupts the sleep cycle and increases daytime drowsiness. Sleep apnea can be caused by poor diet, obesity and smoking – three issues often found among truck drivers.
What to Do if an Overworked Truck Driver Caused a Crash
If you were involved in a collision with a commercial truck and believe that the truck driver was drowsy, exhausted or overworked, take the following steps to protect your rights and initiate a personal injury lawsuit in New Jersey:
- Call the police. Always report an accident involving a commercial truck, as the damages are most likely serious.
- Check for injuries. Check yourself, the truck driver and anyone else involved in the car accident for injuries. Call an ambulance, if necessary.
- Gather information. If you can, exchange contact information with the truck driver and collect other evidence, including photographs of the scene and eyewitness contact information.
- Go to a hospital. Do not wait to get medical care, as this could show an insurance company that your injuries were not serious. Follow your doctor’s orders and treatment plan.
- Contact a truck accident lawyer. An experienced attorney can help you obtain evidence of truck driver fatigue, as well as prove your case with witness testimony and other resources.
Most truck accidents are serious enough to entitle drivers in New Jersey to file fault-based lawsuits outside of the no-fault insurance system. In this case, you or your attorney must prove fault to obtain financial compensation. A lawyer can help you prove drowsy driving and establish fault for the best possible case outcome. For more information about your case, consult with an attorney near you.