Lack of sleep is a very common cause of big rig accidents with the U.S. Department of Transportation estimating up to 28% of truck drivers having sleep apnea. It is possible that as many as 1,500 deaths and 40,000 injuries may be caused by drowsy drivers in only a year. Regulations are put in place to keep commercial truck drivers and vehicles sharing the roads safe from accidents. This means that these drivers must fall within standards that limit the amount of time they are permitted to drive on the roadways until they must sleep.
Problems With Congress
Many very serious accidents have happened due to truck drivers driving from one destination to another while exhausted. For instance, in 2014 a police officer named Douglas Balder was sitting in his squad car when a truck driver barreled through, falling asleep from the long hours he had driven. Going 63 miles an hour, his truck hit Balder’s squad car and the impact caused the gas tank to explode as well as catapult the patrol car into a roadside ditch. Badler lost consciousness and, when he woke, he was on fire. Because of the accident, he knows that changes must be implemented to penalize negligent drivers. However, Congress has made this nearly impossible over the past few years.
The United States Congress has aided in loosening safety rules that will affect working hours, rest periods, size and weight limits, and safety standards in general. Many people believe that important issues are being avoided, such as the fact that sleep apnea has increased the risk of crashes and caused many more health concerns in truck drivers who now have sleeping problems because of the disorder. Congress has failed to act in regards to longer hours on the road. Currently, truck drivers are only permitted to work 70 hours in one week; however, many are proposing that they be more flexible with their work time and raise that number to an exhausting 82 hours. They have also been throwing around the idea of lowering the driver age to 18 to reduce labor costs. If any of these ideas sound like good ones, people must view the statistical data and think again.
The Reality of Trucking Accidents
The truth is, trucking accidents take place more than people would like to admit, causing serious injuries and sometimes even killing drivers and other parties. As Congress made moves to target trucking regulations that were deemed unnecessary and harmful, more accidents took place like the one in 2015 involving John Wayne Johnson. The truck driver barreled through a line of cars that was backed up on an Interstate, killing five nursing students. It was found that he had sleep apnea and a history of falling asleep at the wheel, which came forth in a lawsuit.
For many people involved in these life-altering accidents, such as Balder, the trauma sticks around. He has read most of the 5,000-page investigation of his crash as well as looking at pictures of his destroyed squad car every couple of weeks. Sadly, this is the case for many who live through these accidents… they stick with them forever. The truth is, more attention must be paid to the dangers and realities involved in trucking and how regulations are put in place for a good reason.
Have you been injured in a trucking accident? We have rightfully obtained compensation for many victims of serious trucking accidents whose injuries have held them back from living the life that they deserved. Call us today at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi for more information on how we can help you!