What Should I Do if I See a Drowsy Truck Driver?

October 19, 2020

drowsy truck driver

Truck drivers can become exhausted for various reasons. What happens when a motorist sees a truck driver who seems fatigued? Knowing what to do in this precarious situation is important.

Commercial trucking is a highly competitive industry, and many employers push truck drivers to haul loads as fast as possible. However, speeding to complete a run can be very dangerous. Truckers may be tempted to forgo sleep in order to move their cargo rapidly. This can leave them putting off sleep in lieu of getting more money. Truckers may also be encouraged not to sleep by their trucking companies. This practice is illegal and unethical, but it still frequently happens. For instance, a trucker may be incentivized to meet overly high demands. Even if the trucker feels the demands are outrageous, the trucker may try to meet the new standards to earn a bigger paycheck that week or month.

Another reason truckers often become tired is that many work irregular schedules. One day, they may drive during daylight hours. Another time, they may take cargo overnight. Unusual schedules can cause serious sleep disruptions, leading to insomnia.

Also, truckers may succumb to sleep as a way of coping with monotonous driving. Driving for long stretches with few breaks can be mentally exhausting. These two factors can cause even long-time truckers to lose focus and fall asleep behind the wheel.

Why Do Tired Truck Drivers Cause Crashes?

Statistics show that around 13 precent of truck accidents can be linked to drowsy driving. However, why does driving while sleepy cause so many wrecks? Tired drivers are unable to respond as quickly as they should to traffic patterns. They cannot safely operate the commercial trucks that they are hired to drive.

Anyone who has almost fallen asleep while driving knows how hard it can be to concentrate. For truckers, the situation is compounded because the vehicles they drive are so large. It is harder for a trucker to quickly put on the brakes and stop moving to avoid an accident.

What are the Signs of a Tired Trucker?

How can other drivers tell if a trucker is tired? Even though they cannot speak with the trucker, they should be able to pick up on a few signals that indicate driver fatigue. Some ways to tell if a truck driver is tired include:

Swerving: A swerving truck is a red flag that something is wrong with the trucker, especially if there are no apparent hazards. The trucker may also be distracted and not falling asleep. Either way, veering in and out of lanes can disrupt the natural flow of traffic and put everyone on the road at risk of getting hurt.

Erratic Driving Truckers who nod off may find themselves losing speed. When they jolt awake, their first instinct may be to put their foot on the gas pedal and start moving faster. Therefore, one indicator of a tired driver could be a truck that inconsistently speeds up and slows down again.

Driving on the Shoulder: The shoulder of the road serves as a barrier. Under ordinary circumstances, a trucker should not need to drive on the shoulder of the road. If a truck keeps moving onto the shoulder and driving there instead of in the lane, the truck driver may be falling asleep or otherwise unable to focus on driving.

Poor Reaction Time: When drivers are sleepy, their reactions will usually be late. They also may make inadequate decisions because they are unable to keep up with everything that is happening around them. For example, a tired driver may move into the next lane, hear the other driver’s horn, and then overcorrect back into the original lane.

How can Tired Truckers Feel More Rested?

The majority of truckers understand that inadequate sleep is a problem in the industry. To avoid becoming fatigued during working hours, they may want to practice several routines. These can include sleeping after long shifts of driving steadily for up to eight hours, eating highly nutritious meals at proper intervals, and avoiding over-the-counter drugs and prescription pharmaceuticals that can make them drowsy. Drivers should also feel empowered to take naps at safe places, such as parking lots that welcome truckers, when they start to lose concentration.

How can I Avoid Getting into an Accident with a Drowsy Trucker?

Motorists who share the road with commercial trucks have options when they encounter overly tired truck drivers. Initially, they should try to stay as far away from the commercial truck as possible. This may involve slowing down and allowing the trucker to get farther ahead, or quickly passing the truck to leave it behind.

If it is possible, motorists should try to memorize the truck’s license plate. A passenger could safely take a picture of the truck’s identifying information, although drivers should never use their smartphone while they are behind the wheel. The driver can then pull over or get to a safe location and call local authorities to report the truck. Police may try to find the truck and stop it before the sleepy truck driver causes an accident.

A trucker who is found guilty of driving while too tired can face fines or even a license suspension, depending on a number of factors. The trucker’s employer could also incur fines for breaking trucking hours of operation. If an accident does occur, a victim should contact a lawyer about their legal options.

Cherry Hill Truck Accident Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Help Truck Accident Victims Receive Compensation for Injuries

Drowsy driving is common in the trucking industry. If you were hurt by a negligent truck driver, speaking to a lawyer can help. Our Cherry Hill truck accident lawyers at DiTomaso Law assist victims injured by drowsy truckers. Call us at 856-414-0010 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey, including Mt. Holly, Camden County, and Vineland.