Trucking can be a profitable profession for those in California willing to do the work. While truckers need a special license to handle these large vehicles, that does not mean they won’t take risks on the road, especially when they are paid by the mile or by the load. This pressure can lead to long hours on the road and drowsy driving, which could prove to be catastrophic should it lead to a truck accident.
Drowsy driving and our natural lulls
Everyone, truckers and other motorists alike, has natural lulls in which our bodies are sleepier. These lulls, tied to what science refers to as our circadian rhythms, generally occur after midnight into the morning and again in the late afternoon. Driving during these hours can make a trucker drowsy and unable to safely handle their vehicles. In the worst of circumstances, the trucker could strike another vehicle, leading to significant injuries or even fatalities.
Watch out for side effects
Many of us, truckers included, take over-the-counter or prescription medications regularly to keep ourselves healthy. However, some medications list drowsiness as a side effect, particularly allergy medications, cold medications and tranquilizers. According to one study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 17% of trucker respondents reported having used an over-the-counter medication at the time that their truck accident took place. Sometimes it is better to suffer the cold than to drive drowsy.
Think you know the trick to staying awake? Think again
Many truckers think they have a trick up their sleeve that allows them to stay awake for long hours on the road. However, these “alertness tricks” are generally ineffective and, worse, could give a trucker a false sense of security. Drinking caffeinated beverages, getting fresh air and playing loud music could trick a trucker into thinking they are alert when actually their body is extremely drowsy. This drowsiness could lead to a truck accident.
Truck accidents can be catastrophic
Ultimately, it is up to truckers to avoid drowsy driving, but there are federal and California laws and regulations that mandate break time for truckers in order to prevent fatigued driving.
If you have been injured in a truck accident you will want to make sure you know what your rights are, including the possibility of pursuing compensation for the damages you suffered.