Sleepy truck drivers put Arizona motorists at risk of injury and death

Last month, a couple narrowly escaped serious injuries after the semi-truck they were in - loaded with 44,000 pounds of oranges - rolled onto its side on an interstate in Arizona. The driver admitted to falling asleep at the wheel just prior to the accident.

Nearly every day in and around the Phoenix area, there are news reports of semi-trucks rolling over, jackknifing and crashing, snarling traffic and slowing commutes to and from work and school. Unfortunately, some of these accidents are much more serious, causing traumatic injuries, even death for innocent motorists who share the roads with negligent drivers.

Drowsy driving deaths

An average of more than 800 people die in motor vehicle crashes each year in Arizona, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics. While it is difficult to obtain accurate drowsy driver statistics because there is no standardized test to check fatigue after an accident, an estimated one in five fatal accidents is due to driver fatigue. Per a National Sleep Foundation study, 60 percent of American drivers admit to driving while tired and nearly 40 percent report they have actually fallen asleep at the wheel.

Drowsy driving issues are exacerbated when the driver is at the wheel of a large vehicle, such as an 18-wheeler. The sheer size of commercial trucks creates a much higher level of danger for those motorists involved in accidents with trucks.

New rules for truckers

In recognition of this problem, many safety rules are imposed on commercial truckers, and new laws - put in place last year - are having a positive effect on reducing the number of fatigued truck drivers, according to the Huffington Post. A new safety rule requires more rest time between duty cycles - typically seven or eight day work periods. With adequate sleep, the truck drivers are reporting the following:

  • Less fatigue while driving
  • Increased ability to stay within the driving lanes
  • Fewer lapses of attention while driving

In further attempts to curb drowsy driving, the federal government seeks to require commercial trucks and bus drivers who cross state lines to have electronic devices recording the number of hours each vehicle is in service. The devices would make it more difficult for drivers to exceed the number of hours they are allowed behind the wheel.

If you are injured in an accident

Unfortunately, the amount of rules imposed on truckers and other drivers cannot prevent all accidents. If you or a loved one suffers an injury in an automobile or truck accident due to the negligent driving, seek the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney knowledgeable about accidents may be able to help you obtain compensation to which you and your family are entitled.