Driving while tired is one of the most dangerous mistakes that a driver can make. Fatigue can impede a driver’s senses enough to cause a car accident. When a truck driver operates a big rig while drowsy, the outcome can be deadly for surrounding drivers. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident and suspect driver fatigue, you may have grounds for a lawsuit in New Mexico.
Why Is Truck Driver Fatigue So Common?
Driver fatigue is responsible for hundreds of car accident injuries and deaths in the U.S. each year. Despite operating dangerous vehicles, truck drivers are even more likely to drive tired than typical passenger drivers for a variety of reasons related to their jobs. These include:
- Long-haul trips
- Reversed sleep schedules from overnight trips
- Boredom/traveling alone
- Tight schedules and pressure from employers to meet strict deadlines
- Broken hours-of-service regulations
- Uncomfortable sleeper births and difficulty getting adequate sleep
- Health problems, such as obesity, that increase the risk of sleep apnea
- Medications that increase drowsiness
Sleep apnea is a condition that around one-third of truck drivers are diagnosed with. It can interrupt a good night’s sleep by causing respiratory issues while sleeping. This can increase drowsiness during the day and truck driver fatigue. This is just one of the many job-related factors that increase the risk of drowsy truck drivers.
What Are the Dangers of Driver Fatigue?
Studies have shown that driving while tired is comparable to driving while intoxicated in terms of how it affects a driver’s ability to control a motor vehicle. Both impair a driver’s senses, vision, reaction times and physical strength. These issues can become even more pronounced when a driver is responsible for a large and cumbersome vehicle, such as a commercial truck. Mistakes that a truck driver may make due to drowsiness or fatigue include:
- Failing to pay attention to the road
- Following too closely
- Slamming on the brakes
- Speeding up or slowing down abruptly
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Drifting in and out of a lane
- Making unsafe turns or lane changes
- Delayed reactions to changing roadway situations
- Falling asleep and losing control of the vehicle
These mistakes can lead to catastrophic truck accidents that severely injure or kill the occupants of a smaller car. A drowsy truck driver is a serious danger to everyone else on the road. If a truck driver falls asleep behind the wheel and slams into a car that is stopped at a red light, for example, it could crush the car or cause an override accident.
How Can You Prove Driver Fatigue During a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
If you were injured in a truck accident where you suspect truck driver fatigue, an experienced attorney can help you prove your case through ponderance of evidence. This is the evidentiary standard for all personal injury claims. It means enough clear and convincing evidence to show that the defendant more likely than not caused your crash. Evidence that may be available to prove drowsy driving include:
- The truck’s black box data showing that the driver did not hit the brakes
- In-cab footage of the driver falling asleep
- Surveillance footage of the crash from nearby businesses
- Statements from eyewitnesses who saw the truck driver driving erratically before the crash
- Evidence that the trucking company encourages its drivers to violate hours-of-service regulations
- The driver’s daily logs proving that he or she skipped rest breaks
- Driving records that show previous drowsy-driving collisions
- The truck driver’s medical records (e.g., a diagnosis of sleep apnea)
- A toxicology report that proves the driver was taking a medication that made him or her drowsy
It can be difficult to prove truck driver fatigue – especially if the truck driver passes away in the accident and cannot tell his or her side of the story. A trucking company covering up a drowsy driving accident, such as destroying records or evidence, can also make it difficult to prove your case. Hiring a truck accident attorney in New Mexico right away can help you preserve and gather key evidence to support your claim.