Fatigued Truck Driving Accidents in Las Vegas, Nevada
Fatigued driving is a well-known problem in the trucking industry. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), drowsy driving was a contributing factor in 13 percent of large truck crashes across the U.S. in a recent year.
Anyone who decides to get behind the wheel while tired is capable of causing a serious accident. But when a drowsy driver happens to be operating a multi-ton commercial vehicle, a distracted driving accident can be especially traumatic.
Recognizing the danger, the federal government imposes strict regulations on truckers to curb the dangerous consequences of fatigued truck driving. Unfortunately, violations still happen. When they do, accident victims in Nevada have the right to hold the at-fault parties accountable for their negligence.
As you would expect, fatigued truck drivers may certainly be held liable for falling asleep behind the wheel. However, other entities in the trucking industry may be partly responsible for fatigue-related collisions, too. Many trucking companies pressure truck drivers to make tight deadlines, compelling them to stay behind the wheel longer than they should.
If you were involved in a Las Vegas drowsy driving truck accident, you have the right to pursue compensation for your losses from all liable parties. Contact THE702FIRM Injury Attorneys today for a free case review.
How Dangerous Is It to Drive While Tired?
Fatigue is a major contributing factor in motor vehicle accidents throughout the United States. According to data from the Sleep Foundation:
- Drowsy driving can be hazardous even when drivers don’t fall asleep on the road.
- Being sleepy behind the wheel affects your ability to remain attentive, react quickly, and make safe driving decisions.
- The effects of sleep deprivation are similar to the types and degrees of mental impairment caused by alcohol intoxication.
- The driving ability of someone who has been sleep-deprived for just 24 hours is roughly equivalent to that of someone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10.
- Thousands of crashes and hundreds of fatalities are associated with accidents caused by drowsy drivers every year.
Disturbingly, drowsy driving is all too common among big rig truck drivers. A large truck crash causation study conducted by FMCSA identified fatigue as one of the top 10 factors associated with truck accidents.
Truck Driver Hours-of-Service Regulations
Truckers are required to follow government rules dictating how long they can drive before taking a rest. These rules are known as hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. A truck driver’s “hours of service” refer to their time spent physically driving a rig as well as any time they spend “on duty,” even if they are not driving.
HOS regulations for truck drivers in the U.S. include:
- The 11-hour driving limit: Restricts drivers to a maximum of 11 hours of drive time after a minimum of 10 consecutive hours spent off-duty.
- The 14-hour on-duty limit: Prohibits drivers from driving past the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty after spending 10 consecutive hours off-duty. Additional off-duty time cannot be used to extend the 14-hour limit.
- The 30-minute rest break requirement: Requires drivers to take a 30-minute rest break after 8 cumulative hours of drive time.
- The 60/70-hour limit: Limits drivers to a maximum of 60 on-duty driving hours within a consecutive 7-day period or 70 on-duty driving hours within a consecutive 8-day period. A consecutive 7-or-8-day period may be restarted after a driver takes at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.
- The sleeper berth provision: Permits drivers to split the minimum 10-hour off-duty period as long as one chunk of their off-duty period is at least 2 hours long and the other chunk includes at least 7 consecutive hours of rest in their truck’s sleeper berth. Split pairings of off-duty periods must add up to 10 hours total.
- The adverse driving conditions exception: Allows drivers to extend the 11-hour driving limit and 14-hour on-duty limit by up to 2 hours if they encounter adverse driving conditions that would make it unsafe to stop.
- The short-haul exception: Exempts drivers from most HOS regulations if they operate within a 150 “air-mile” radius of the location where they report for work. The maximum limit of 14 consecutive hours on duty still applies.
Investigating a Drowsy Driving Truck Accident in Las Vegas
It can be challenging to prove that a truck driver’s drowsiness was a contributing factor in a Las Vegas accident. Even if you witnessed the driver nodding off at the wheel, it would be your word against theirs, and truck drivers tend to be represented by aggressive insurance carriers and combative lawyers.
- Other vehicle occupants or eyewitnesses who saw the driver nodding off behind the wheel
- Data from the truck driver’s logbook or electronic logging devices, which can demonstrate that the driver was exceeding proper HOS limits
- Medical evidence, such as diagnostic records of any sleep-related health conditions or prescription records for drugs that cause drowsiness
- Video footage from traffic or dash cameras that shows the truck driver’s actions and behavior in the moments leading up to the wreck
- Police accident reports, including the officer’s assessment of the trucker’s condition or any statements that he/she said that could indicate fault
Causes of Fatigued Driver Truck Accidents
There are many possible reasons for a fatigued driver truck accident, but the wider prevalence of drowsy driving truck accidents can be attributed to a handful of major factors:
- Truck driver shortage: The American Trucking Associations (ATA) have reported a shortage of truck drivers since 2005. This means there is more pressure on existing drivers to transport goods efficiently and that many new drivers lack the experience and training needed to recognize dangerous levels of fatigue.
- Negligent trucking companies: Some trucking companies encourage their drivers to operate for dangerously long hours or meet impossible delivery quotas. This can lead to truck drivers struggling through long shifts that exceed their HOS limits. Companies have even been known to offer monetary incentives for drivers that get to their destinations early.
- Sleep-related health conditions: Some truck drivers have conditions that affect their ability to sleep properly, and the law allows them to keep diagnosed conditions like sleep apnea private. However, one study by the transportation industry found that truck drivers with untreated sleep apnea were several times more likely to be involved in preventable accidents.
- Use or abuse of certain drugs: Drivers who use legal or illegal drugs that induce drowsiness are more likely to cause fatigued driving accidents. However, even stimulants that make users temporarily or artificially alert can be dangerous when they wear off.
How to Avoid Drowsy Driving Truck Accidents
Here are some tips to combat the disastrous effects of driver fatigue, which include:
- Get enough sleep every night: Experts suggest sleeping for at least seven to eight hours every night. When drivers lack adequate sleep, they can be affected by short-term memory problems, impaired cognitive function, and delayed reaction times.
- Eat a healthy diet: Drivers who skip meals can become fatigued while driving or even experience sleep disturbances due to irregular mealtimes. Heavy meals can induce drowsiness, so it’s best to avoid eating those on the road.
- Take brief naps when drowsy: If you feel fatigued, take a nap that is at least 10 minutes long but no more than 45 minutes long. Give yourself at least 15 minutes to become fully alert before getting behind the wheel.
- Avoid certain medications: Many medications may cause drivers to feel drowsy, including tranquilizers, narcotics, sleeping pills, allergy drugs, and cold relief drugs. Never drive until you know how a medication will affect you.
- Watch for symptoms of fatigue: Warning signs include repeated yawning, difficulty keeping your eyes open, and blurred vision.
- Avoid quick fixes for drowsiness: Quick fixes such as downing coffee, soda, stimulants, smoking, or cranking up the radio to stay alert do not work in the long term. The only solution to sleep deprivation is sleep.
When to Contact a Lawyer in Las Vegas After a Fatigued Driver Truck Accident
If you were involved in a Las Vegas fatigued driver truck accident, it’s a good idea to contact a lawyer after the accident. Unlike a standard car accident, handling a commercial vehicle claim is inherently more complicated because both federal and Nevada laws come into play.
You should absolutely contact a truck accident lawyer if:
- You required costly medical attention to treat accident-related injuries.
- You were forced to miss time at work as a result of your injuries.
- You and your doctor believe your injuries will have long-term health effects.
- Someone was injured or killed.
- It’s not clear who was at fault for the wreck, or more than one party may be liable.
- The truck driver or trucking company tries to blame you for the crash.
- You aren’t sure how much your claim is worth or how to deal with the insurer.
- The insurance company attempts to minimize your claim or deny you coverage.
- You must take your truck accident claim to court to demand compensation.
How Can THE702FIRM Injury Attorneys Help Me?
At THE702FIRM Injury Attorneys, we can support you through every stage of the truck accident claims process by:
- Explaining your rights and legal options
- Helping you access the medical care you need
- Investigating evidence of truck driver fatigue
- Working with accident reconstruction experts
- Managing your important documents and deadlines
- Communicating with insurance adjusters and lawyers on your behalf
- Negotiating aggressively for maximum compensation
Our law firm has recovered millions of dollars for injured clients throughout Las Vegas. We have the resources and experience to help you, too. Call or contact us now to learn how we can help. The first consultation is free, and there’s no fee unless we win your case.