You know how groggy and out of energy you feel after a poor night’s sleep. Now imagine you are driving an 80,000 lb. fully loaded semi-truck while completely exhausted and barely able to keep your eyes open. It’s a recipe for disaster that happens all too often on Oklahoma’s highways.
Drowsy driving has been linked with reduced judgment, awareness and reaction times, similar to drunk driving. But despite federal regulations limiting truckers’ time on the road per week and requiring regular rest breaks, truckers continue to drive while nodding off. Often, their employers pressure them not to sleep by giving them unrealistic schedules to keep.
Lack of sleep and too much time on the road can cause a driver to lose control and cause a terrible truck accident. A recent example outside of Oklahoma demonstrates what can happen here.
Trucker nods off, hits another truck
A pair of trucks carrying beets on a Minnesota highway crashed and went off the road, causing a fire. One of the truckers admitted dozing off shortly before his truck sideswiped the other one. The first truck skidded off the road, overturned, crashed into a tree and burst into flames. The sideswiped truck was also on the side of the road when sheriff’s deputies arrived. Fortunately, neither driver was seriously hurt and no other vehicles were involved.
This incident could have been much worse. A huge out-of-control commercial 18-wheeler can cause terrible harm to people inside smaller vehicles. Victims are frequently disabled for life, if they are fortunate enough to survive.
Drowsy driving is never necessary
Like other forms of negligence on the road, drowsy driving is preventable. A truck driver can choose to stop for adequate sleep, just like a trucking company can choose to comply with the law and have policies encouraging rest when needed. Failure to take reasonable precautions means they are liable for their victims’ damages.