Driving a commercial truck can be a demanding job that involves traveling long distances, working unusual hours, and meeting tight deadlines. Eventually, that stress can take a toll. A driver may become so tired that their ability to safely operate their vehicle is impaired. Research shows that fatigue can impact a person’s cognitive functioning and motor skills in the same way as alcohol. That makes driving while drowsy as dangerous as drunk driving in some circumstances.
If you were injured in an accident involving a fatigued truck driver, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other losses related to the crash. At Kreger Brodish LLP, we provide clients with the professional, compassionate representation they deserve. For over a decade, our firm has advocated for the rights of accident victims and helped them pursue the compensation they need for medical bills, lost wages, and more. We understand how difficult recovering from a traumatic accident can be and will handle every detail of your case while you focus on what matters.
Contact us today for a free consultation with a truck accident attorney in North Carolina.
What Should You Do If You Believe Your Auto Accident Was Caused by Truck Driver Fatigue?
If you know or suspect a fatigued truck driver caused the accident that injured you, it’s essential to contact an experienced attorney who can build a case against the driver. Proving that a drowsy driver caused a crash can be challenging — but it is possible with the proper evidence. A skilled lawyer can investigate the accident and gather evidence to determine liability in your case. The types of evidence that may be useful in proving that a truck driver was fatigued at the time of a crash may include the following:
- Black box data from the truck
- Travel logs, logbooks, or billed hours
- The driver’s cell phone records
- GPS data
- The police accident report
- The driver’s medical records, in case they were being treated for a sleeping disorder or taking medications that can cause drowsiness
- Footage from surveillance cameras, traffic cameras, or dash-cam videos
- Photos and video of the accident scene, including skid marks on the road, damage to property, or traffic signs
- Photos of vehicle damage
Trucking company records like logbooks and black box data can help determine whether a truck driver was operating their vehicle beyond the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hours-of-service regulations when the crash occurred. Exceeding these federal limits may show a driver was likely too tired to safely operate their vehicle.
Some evidence can be challenging to get without the help of an attorney. For example, black box data is the trucking company’s property. Getting the company to turn over this evidence could be challenging. A truck accident attorney will know how to secure valuable evidence before it is gone to help build a solid case.
North Carolina’s Fatigued Driving Laws
Like most states, North Carolina has no laws that specifically prohibit drowsy driving. However, federal hours-of-service regulations apply to interstate truck drivers to combat drowsy driving in the industry. These rules require truck drivers to take 30-minute breaks after driving for eight consecutive hours without a 30-minute interruption. There are also limits on how many hours a driver may operate their vehicle each week. The FMCSA offers truck drivers tips on identifying the signs of fatigued driving and taking proactive steps to avoid driving while drowsy.
Although no state law prohibits drowsy driving in North Carolina, a driver who causes an accident because they are tired behind the wheel may still be at fault for the crash and liable for resulting injuries. Having an attorney prove the other party is to blame for the accident will be crucial to pursue compensation.
Fatigued Driving Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 600 people died in drowsy-driving crashes in the United States in one recent year. The NHTSA estimates that approximately 91,000 crashes reported to police in one recent year involved drowsy drivers, resulting in 50,000 injuries. However, these estimates may be low because evidence of drowsy driving is not always clear or conclusive. Research indicates that up to 6,000 fatal crashes annually may be caused by drowsy drivers.
The NHTSA reports the three most common factors among crashes caused by fatigued drivers are the following:
- Dips in circadian rhythm — Drowsy driving crashes tend to occur between midnight and 6 a.m. or in the afternoon. These are both times when a person’s circadian rhythm dips, telling the body it is time to sleep.
- Single drivers running off the road — Most drowsy driving crashes involve a driver falling asleep behind the wheel and running off the road at a high rate of speed without any attempt to apply the brakes.
- Rural roads and highways — Drowsy driving crashes often occur on rural roads and highways. It may be easier to become drowsy due to a lack of sights, sounds, and traffic signals on these roads.
Why Should You Contact a Durham Truck Accident Lawyer Today?
Proving that a truck driver was drowsy when they caused a crash can be challenging without an experienced attorney in your corner. To pursue the fair compensation you deserve after a devastating truck accident, you need the help that a Durham truck accident lawyer from Kreger Brodish LLP can provide. You can trust our knowledgeable team to advocate for your rights and help you seek the financial relief you need. Contact our Durham office today for a free consultation.