Why Nebraska Truckers Fall Asleep at the Wheel
Fatigued truck drivers are a menace to everyone on the roadways. It is extremely dangerous for any driver to fall asleep at the wheel. When it happens to a trucker controlling a big rig weighing in excess of 80,000 pounds, the results can be catastrophic. Statewide in 2020, as reported by the Department of Transportation (DOT):
- 2,215 crashes occurred in Nebraska involving semi tractor-trailers and other heavy trucks.
- 51 people were killed in these truck collisions.
- 644 people were injured in wrecks involving large trucks.
What Factors Contribute to Fatigued Truck Drivers in Nebraska?
Nebraska is located in the middle of the country. Many truckers moving through the state have already traveled many miles, making them more susceptible to driver fatigue. Our state has flat terrain with long straight roads. On a long haul, it may become monotonous and tend to lull drivers to sleep.
Tired truck drivers pose a risk anywhere in the U.S. Truckers often work long hours and drive at night. They may take prescription or over-the-counter medications or have health issues that cause drowsiness or fatigue. In addition, trucking companies put pressure on their drivers and give them incentives to push their limits.
What Are the Federal Regulations Aimed at Fatigued Truck Driving?
Hours of service regulations to help prevent fatigued driving in truck drivers have been established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). For truck drivers carrying property, with some exceptions, these requirements include:
- 11 hour maximum driving limit after 10 consecutive hours off duty
- 30 minute break after 8 hours of driving
- No driving beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty
- 60 hour driving limit for a seven day week
- 70 hour driving limit for an eight day week
What Can Happen When Truck Drivers Fall Asleep at the Wheel?
Fatigued driving can cause fatal collisions. In 2020, 633 people died in drowsy-driving crashes, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). An estimated 16% to 21% of all wrecks that cause fatalities involve drowsy driving, according to AAA Foundation. Fatigue can significantly affect decision making, focus, and concentration, and drowsy drivers are more likely to fall asleep on long, monotonous stretches of roadway.
When a truck driver falls asleep, control of the big rig is completely lost, and the damage can be enormous. The truck could collide with other vehicles, jackknife, or roll over, causing a multi-vehicle pileup, extensive property damage, and serious or fatal injuries to other people on the roadway.
Are Trucking Companies Liable When Their Drivers Fall Asleep at the Wheel?
Trucking companies are concerned with their own bottom line. With the goal of getting more cargo delivered quickly, these companies may encourage or ignore hours of service violations committed by their drivers. This can lead to fatigued driving collisions, which come at a high cost to other motorists sharing the road. If trucking company negligence contributed to a driver falling asleep at the wheel, the company may be held liable for a resulting wreck.
How Can an Attorney Help?
Truck accidents are complex cases involving state and federal regulations and multiple potentially liable parties. Trucking companies and their insurers have teams of lawyers ready to fight your claim. Your best chance of recovering fair compensation is to have an experienced Omaha truck accident attorney on your side.
Call Bottlinger Law L.L.C. at (402) 505-8234 to schedule a free consultation. Our firm has a history of success recovering compensation for our clients. We can discuss your case with you and explain your options under the law.
Our legal team is ready to help. Please fill out the form below to set up a free consultation with the Bottlinger Law team.