Every year in California there is a tremendous number of trucking accidents. While there are various causes of Tractor Trailer Accidents, many of them are caused by the truck drivers and the demands placed upon them. Many drivers find themselves in a constant race against time. Getting cargo to its destination on time, if not early, directly affects their income. The pressure this pressure puts on drivers presents some extremely dangerous conditions to other cars sharing the road with tractor trailers: driver fatigue and speeding. If you’re a driver or owner and there’s been an accident, you may want to consult with an attorney about the case.
Truck Driver Fatigue
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) driver fatigue is responsible for approximately 30% of fatal trucking accidents. Driver fatigue is typically defined as the driver feeling sleepy and or exhausted while driving a commercial vehicle. Drivers work extremely long hours, have deadlines to meet and must adhere to highly pressurized schedules. All of these factors combined help to explain why driver fatigue contributes heavily to trucking & commercial vehicle accidents. Driver fatigue can also impair the judgment & reaction time of a truck driver thereby further compounding the dangers of driving while fatigued.
Common Symptoms of Driver Fatigue May Include:
- Excessive Yawning Feelings of Irritability
- Inability to Concentrate
- Tired Eyes Decreased Reaction Time
- Feeling the Need to Take Stimulants to Stay Awake
- Driver Speeding
Approximately 25% of large trucking accidents involve a driver with at least one speeding conviction. Due to the pressures and deadlines associated with delivering cargo on time, speeding is very common among truckers. Considering momentum, inertia and the physics involved in driving a truck, it becomes understandable how speeding plays a role in tractor trailer accidents.
After a trucking accident, the speed at which a truck was traveling before the crash may be determined during an accident investigation. Aspects of the investigation such as the drivers log book, the truck’s black box and measurements and findings made by an expert witness can help determine if an accident was caused by excessive speed.
Drug and Alcohol Related Trucking Accidents
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), both of which are also referred to as drunk driving, are very common offenses in today’s society. They are very dangerous offenses when operating a car or passenger vehicle.
When drunk driving is combined with operating a commercial vehicle, a very common transportation system for consumer goods or hazardous materials can morph into a lethal weapon. The size and contents of the vehicle exponentially increase the dangers of driving drunk for the driver and others on the road.
A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Traffic Safety revealed:
- 15% of truck drivers had Marijuana in their systems
- 12% of truck drivers had non-prescription stimulants in their systems
- 5% of truck drivers had prescription stimulants in their system
- 2% of truckers had cocaine in their systems
- 1% of tractor trailer drivers had alcohol in their systems
Laws & industry regulations regarding truckers driving while intoxicated are very strict. For instance, if a commercial vehicle operator is arrested for DUI they may be unable to drive any commercial vehicle for a period of 12 months after they are convicted. If the transporting of hazardous materials was involved they will be unable to operate a commercial vehicle of any kind for 36 months. If they are convicted of a subsequent offense DUI their CDL is revoked for life.