While semi-trucks are an important part of commerce in New Jersey and nationwide, businesses that utilize them are ultimately looking to make a profit and those who drive them do so to get a paycheck. Thus, either for their own monetary gain or that of their employer, semi-truck drivers are often incentivized to make as many deliveries as possible as quickly as possible. However, this could lead semi-truck drivers to drive negligently.
One way that semi-truck drivers can drive negligently is if they are driving while fatigued. Despite federal regulations that limit how long a semi-truck driver can be on the road before they must take rest breaks, some semi-truck drivers will still engage in drowsy driving. This could lead to devastating truck accidents. In fact, one federal study found that when it comes to truck accidents 13 percent of the semi-truck drivers were fatigued when the incident occurred.
Not getting enough sleep at night could lead to sleep inertia. Sleep inertia is the impairment one's ability to safely perform certain activities, such as driving. Sleep inertia can negatively impact a driver's short-term memory, vigilance, reaction time and it could ultimately make it so that a driver simply cannot stay awake.
Semi-truck drivers should also be aware that taking certain medications, whether they are prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications, can make a person drowsy, and thus unable to drive safely. In fact, one study reports that 17 percent of semi-truck drivers involved in a motor vehicle accident had used over-the-counter medications when the incident occurred.
Drowsy driving is dangerous driving. Research has shown that if a person has gone without sleep for 18 hours, their ability to drive is just as impaired as if they had a blood-alcohol concentration over the legal limit. Truck drivers might try to stay awake by drinking a cup of coffee, rolling down the window for fresh air or listening to loud music. However, these tactics ultimately do not allow a drowsy driver to stay alert enough to operate their vehicle safely. Semi-truck crashes can be especially catastrophic, due to the sheer size of the truck involved. Thus, those injured in a collision with a semi-truck will want to determine if the truck driver was fatigued when the accident occurred. From there, it may be possible to take legal action to recover compensation for the damages suffered.