Drivers of large commercial vehicles must be very careful to avoid causing an accident. This is because a motor vehicle accident involving a commercial vehicle weighing tens of thousands of pounds can be very catastrophic. Commercial vehicle drivers must obtain a special license to operate their vehicle, and like all motorists, must drive with due care.
However, commercial vehicle drivers — especially those who drive semi-trucks — often have a financial incentive to make as many trips as they can as quickly as possible. Despite federal regulations limiting how long a commercial vehicle driver may be on the road before being required to take a rest break, many commercial vehicle drivers in Minnesota will ignore these rules and drive while fatigued. This is a very dangerous practice not just for them, but for everyone else on the road.
In fact, according to one study, 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle operators involved in a collision were deemed to be fatigued when the accident occurred. Some commercial vehicle drivers will ignore their natural wake/sleep cycle and drive in the middle of the night when they are more at risk for being drowsy. Certain medications can also make a person drowsy. One study of commercial vehicle accidents found that 17 percent of operators of a commercial vehicle who were involved in an accident had taken an over-the-counter drug that made them sleepy.
A lack of sleep can affect a motorist’s memory, attentiveness and reaction time, all of which could lead to a motor vehicle accident. According to researchers, driving after being awake for 18 hours in a row is just as dangerous as drunk driving. Drivers of commercial motor vehicles might try various tactics to stay awake, such as drinking coffee, rolling down the window for fresh air or listening to loud music. However, these activities generally are not effective in preventing drowsy driving.
When a commercial vehicle driver is fatigued and causes an accident, it can lead to significant injuries or even fatalities. Victims of such accidents will incur a lot of expenses associated with medical care, lost wages and emotional distress, among other damages. Therefore, they may want to determine if they have a legal claim against the driver responsible for the crash, especially if that driver was fatigued when the crash occurred.