The economy in the United States is made up of many different pieces. One of those is the trucking industry. In any given day there are thousands of semi-trucks out on the road transporting some type of cargo from one place to another. This high volume of tractor trailers also means a higher risk of a Virginia trucking accidents.
Truck drivers spend a great deal of time driving on the road. This puts them at a higher risk for fatal accidents due to the amount of hours they spend behind the wheel. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), fatigue is the number one cause of fatal accidents with truck drivers. Driver fatigue is the cause of 30-40 percent of accidents within tractor trailers.
When you take a closer look at it, there are two types of fatigue a truck driver can suffer from. The first type is a lack of stimulation. Drivers are forced to maintain high levels of alertness for long periods of time. The scenery may not always be stimulating so the driver can easily fall into boredom and stop paying attention to the road or what they are doing. The NTSB has found that the more monotonous and familiar the route becomes to the driver, the higher the risk for this type of fatigue. Many drivers go into a version of “autopilot” because they have driven the same route too many times and tend to check out along the way. This is called passive fatigue because of the driver’s propensity to become passive in his driving.
The second type of fatigue that truck drivers face is active fatigue. This is caused by a lack of sleep. Drivers have a schedule and time to deliver their cargo, and sometimes have to push through being tired to arrive on time. In one study, researchers asked truck drivers after an accident what they thought caused them to crash. Fifty-seven percent of drivers reported that they had a lack of sleep the night before and were not able to compensate properly due to fatigue, resulting in an accident.
The NHTSA is constantly seeking out new ideas and programs to help combat this problem. One of the recent ideas included the drowsy driver research program. This program involved a device mounted on the dashboard of the truck that measured any type of steering wheel changes and determined whether the changes were part of the driver’s typical driving patterns or abnormal from drowsiness. If the device decides the pattern is from fatigue, it sends out an alert to warn the driver and wake him up.
Driver fatigue is very dangerous for the driver and others on the road. If you have been involved in a Warrenton truck accident and need help on where to go next, we are here to help. Attorneys at Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas are available to help guide you and answer your questions and concerns.