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The Dixie Highway is no place for a trucker to nap

If you live in this area of Kentucky, you know the dangers the Dixie Highway can have under normal circumstances. Even when you and other drivers diligently follow the rules and pay attention, someone else may not do the same. Distracted driving and drunk driving receive a lot of media, law enforcement and advocacy attention, but another danger lurks behind steering wheels -- drowsy driving.

Being sleepy behind the wheel is dangerous enough for a passenger car driver. When the driver is responsible for maneuvering a vehicle that weighs up to 80,000 pounds and towers over other vehicles, adding sleepiness can truly be a recipe for disaster.

Drowsy truck drivers pose a real threat

Counting the number of crashes attributable to drowsy driving is a challenge. Estimates put the annual number of accidents caused by sleepy drivers at around 100,000. Many of those may involve truck drivers.

It may not be a difficult leap to assume that truck drivers can be susceptible to driving drowsy. Driving the country's highways all day can become monotonous. When you couple that factor with tight schedules and demanding employers, truck drivers may not receive enough sleep in order to safely operate their mammoth vehicles.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recognized these dangers and instituted rules and regulations limiting the amount of hours that a truck driver may remain behind the wheel. Not every truck driver follows these rules. When such drivers don't, they could be putting everyone on the road with them in mortal danger.

The effects of drowsy driving

Drunk driving represents one of the more accurate comparisons to drowsy driving. This is not as dramatic a comparison as you would think. Sleepiness causes the following:

  • Diminished reaction time
  • Impaired judgment
  • Impaired cognition
  • Slowed reflexes

Sound familiar? These are the same types of incapacity suffered by drunk drivers. A drowsy driver could fall asleep while driving without even realizing it. Drinking coffee, opening a window or turning up the music may work for a short time, but do not work for long. The only real way to avoid a collision based on drowsy driving is to get sufficient rest.

If you suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a truck accident, it may be worthwhile to determine whether the truck driver failed to get adequate rest before getting behind the wheel. This factor could help establish negligence on the part of the trucker in a personal injury or wrongful death claim filed by the victim or his or her surviving family members.

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