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The Danger of Tired Truck Drivers in North Carolina

Published May 22, 2012

In North Carolina we hear a lot about distracted driving, whether it is about the link between distraction and teen driving deaths in the state or about initiatives in North Carolina to crack down on distracted driving among all drivers. But what has not appeared in the news as much is concern about distracted driving among commercial drivers in North Carolina. Among truck drivers, one of the most dangerous distractions behind the wheel is drowsiness.

A survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation looked at the sleeping habits of transportation workers, including truck drivers, airline pilots and train operators, and compared their sleep habits to those of non-transportation workers. According to the survey, lack of sleep among commercial drivers is a significant issue. The study found that 10 percent of transportation workers do not get enough sleep and may be dangerously low on sleep while behind the wheel.

The study also found that up to 44 percent of truck drivers rarely or never get sufficient sleep the nights before they work. The lack of sleep satisfaction has a potential impact on the ability of drivers to safely complete their work duties. As many as 14 percent of the truck drivers surveyed in the study admitted to causing a “near miss” car accident because of their sleep deficit.

Truck, bus and taxi drivers often work irregular hours, making it more difficult for commercial drivers to acquire meaningful rest. However, the irregular hours and the need for rest are also part of the reason why commercial drivers are regulated.

The Department of Transportation recently announced new rules that reduce the total number of work hours for commercial truck drivers to 70. The new rules also require commercial drivers to take a break after working eight hours. To further reduce the danger of sleepy commercial drivers, the chairman of the NSF said in an article featured in The Huffington Post that transportation industries should adopt fatigue management systems to manage sleep quantity and quality issues through scheduling, naps and even caffeine use.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a traffic accident, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to review your legal options.