While some sources suggest that this problem is relatively well known between truck drivers, the issue has come to the public’s attention after an accident involving comedian Tracey Morgan who was severely injured in a fatal accident that occurred outside of New York City. According to reports, the driver of the Walmart tractor-trailer that crashed into the van carrying Morgan and several other passengers had not slept in over 24 hours.
By some estimates, fatigued driving is the leading cause of accidents involving the death of a truck driver. Drowsiness is a factor in approximately 31 percent of such crashes, according to a study by the National Transportation Safety Board, and some experts suggest that the estimate is low because truck drivers have an incentive to lie about driving while drowsy. However, the trucking industry suggests that the focus on fatigue is unwarranted, citing estimates saying that only 7 percent of truck crashes are caused by tired drivers.
While the figures concerning drowsy driving among truck drivers is in dispute, data shows that there has been a recent increase in the number of accidents involving the large vehicles, and as Morgan’s accident shows, the damage caused by such crashes can be substantial. However, those who have been in an accident caused by a negligent truck driver might be able to recover their losses through a personal injury lawsuit.
Source: The New York Times, “Truckers Resist Rules on Sleep, Despite Risks of Drowsy Driving“, Jad Mouawad and Elizabeth A. Harris, June 16, 2014