Drowsy driving is a serious concern for CMV operators in North Carolina and across the U.S. According to the FMCSA’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study, 13% of truckers were discovered at the time of their accidents to be drowsy. Fatigue can come with long hours and a lack of sound sleep, but it is preventable. Below are some tips for preventing drowsiness and for addressing it when it does arise.
It all starts with adequate sleep. To improve the quality of their sleep, truckers should try not to go to bed either after a heavy meal or with an empty stomach. In addition, they may want to avoid driving during those times when the body is naturally tired, such as the period between midnight and 6 a.m. and between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Truckers should avoid drowsiness-inducing medications, which can range from tranquilizers to allergy and cold medicines. They must also keep in mind the signs of drowsiness. Heavy eyelids, blurred vision and continual yawning are some obvious symptoms.
As a last resort, truckers can pull over for a nap. Forty-five minutes is a good length. What they should not rely on are “alertness tricks” like playing loud music or rolling down the windows. These do not work in the long run but instead create a false sense of security.
When a commercial truck accident is caused by a drowsy trucker, there may be good grounds for a claim against the trucking company. Victims should know, however, that North Carolina follows the rule of contributory negligence, which bars anyone who is even partially at fault from recovering damages. For example, if a victim contributed to their injuries by not wearing a seatbelt, they cannot be compensated. It may be wise, then, to have a lawyer evaluate the case before moving forward.