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When it Comes to Commercial Trucking, Sleep Deprivation May Prove Fatal

According to experts, we all need between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep nightly in order to have the energy and levels of alertness we need. However, studies have shown that over a third of Americans sleep six hours a night or less during the work week. What is even worse, some researchers claim that we overestimate how long we sleep by 47 minutes, so we may be even more sleep deprived than we realize.

This is bad news for those who are concerned about truck and car accidents in Homestead and other communities, since sleep deprivation is a major contributor to traffic accidents. Although there are federal laws designed to ensure that commercial truck drivers and other commercial vehicle operators get adequate rest so that they can do their jobs safely, there are indications that truckers and other professionals do not get enough rest. A study by the National Sleep Foundation, for example, found that 44% of polled truck drivers stated that they rarely get good sleep on workdays.

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How much does sleeplessness really contribute to car and truck accidents in Homestead and other cities? The answer may surprise you. According to some sleep experts, even reducing sleep by 1.3 or 1.5 hours for a single nights can cut daytime alertness by up to 32%. This can mean that a commercial truck driver who has had even one bad night of sleep could be less alert on the road and more likely to be in a serious traffic accident in Homestead or your community.

Part of the problem, too, is that while federal rules regulate how much truck drivers need to rest, they cannot regulate sleep. Truck drivers have maximum hours of service rules they must adhere to and these rules ensure that truck drivers are not allowed to be on the job without getting a certain amount of rest. In some cases, however, truck carriers and drivers violate these rules. Even in cases where the rules are obeyed, though, there is simply no way to ensure that a truck driver gets adequate sleep. A driver may take the required time off but may have trouble falling asleep or may suffer from sleep apnea or another disorder that affects driving ability.

When truck drivers do not get adequate amounts of quality sleep, everyone is at risk. Fatigued drivers are more likely to make mistakes that lead to serious accidents. They may also have poorer decision making skills and reaction times. In some cases, they can even fall asleep at the wheel, losing control of their big rig or tractor trailer.

In some cases, truck drivers may not even realize how fatigued they are. When the body is very tired, it can fall into “microsleeps” or very short periods of inattention or sleep. A person may not even be aware of these microsleeps since they can last just a fraction of a second. Unfortunately, they are long enough to cause a serious crash.

It is possible that technology may eventually help in preventing accidents caused by driver fatigue. There are already devices available that track eye movement of drivers and can sound an alarm if a driver shows signs of fatigue or sleepiness. Eventually, these devices could help save lives by getting unsafe drivers off the road.


Have you been injured in a trucking accident? Contact Flaxman Law Group for a free consultation to find out whether you have a case.