The dramatic increase in e-commerce that occurred with the pandemic and other factors have contributed to a significant increase in commercial truck traffic. With more semi tractor-trailers on the roads today, truck accidents are on the rise in Massachusetts and throughout the nation. In 2020, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- 4,965 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks
- 71% of these fatalities were occupants of other vehicles
- 13% were bicyclists, pedestrians, or other nonoccupants
- An estimated 146,930 people were injured in large truck wrecks
- Truck drivers involved in fatal crashes had a 21.3% higher percentage of previous crashes than other drivers
Truck accidents can occur for many different reasons. One contributing factor is fatigued truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel.
Why Do Some Truckers Drive Fatigued in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts is a pass-through state because of its location. Truckers driving for long stretches can become fatigued, drowsy, or even fall asleep at the wheel. Hours of service regulations to help prevent this have been issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These regulations require rest breaks and limit the amount of time truck drivers can be on the road in any given day or week. Nevertheless, some truckers still drive fatigued.
This can happen if they fail to get adequate sleep or spend too many hours on the road. In some cases, trucking companies put pressure on their drivers to meet unreasonable deadlines or offer incentives that encourage drivers to exceed the speed limit or violate hours of service regulations. Truck drivers may take prescription or over-the-counter medications that cause drowsy driving. Truckers tend to have unhealthy lifestyles, spending countless hours on the road with little or no exercise and picking up meals along the way. Illness and chronic medical conditions can also lead to driver fatigue.
What Are the Dangers of Truckers Falling Asleep at the Wheel?
When a driver falls asleep at the wheel, he or she is no longer in control of the vehicle. This is a serious situation with any vehicle, but even more so when a trucker loses control of a big rig weighing 80,000 pounds or more. The damage to life and property can be catastrophic. Once a driver falls asleep and loses control, the truck can potentially plow into smaller vehicles on the road, jackknife, or rollover, spilling cargo, blocking lanes of traffic, and causing multi-vehicle pileups.
What Should You Do If You Were Hurt by a Trucker Who Fell Asleep at the Wheel?
The first thing to do after a truck accident is to seek medical care for your injuries. If you are able after the crash, take pictures and videos at the accident scene and get contact information for any eyewitnesses.
If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a crash caused by a truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel, your best course of action is to speak with a Burlington personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will need to take steps immediately to secure and preserve vital black box data and other evidence in your case.
Truck accidents are generally complex, high stakes cases with extensive damages. They involve state and federal regulations and multiple potentially liable parties. Trucking companies and their insurers have teams of attorneys to fight against your claim. Your best chance of recovering the compensation you deserve is to have an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side.
At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., we have a history of success for our clients. Call us at (978) 327-5140 to schedule a free consultation.