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California Trucking Accidents Caused by Sleep Deprivation

Rollover Truck
California 18 Wheeler Accident Lawyer

California trucking accidents caused by sleep deprivation of truck drivers in California and throughout the U.S. continue to be a real problem. Despite recent federal regulations mandating additional rules related to rest periods for commercial truckers, many big rig crashes are attributable, in whole or in part, to drowsy truck drivers. In fact, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, sleep deprivation may be a contributing factor in between 30 and 40 percent of all semi truck crash cases.

The Role of Sleepy Truck Drivers in Motor Vehicle Accidents in California

Attempting to operate an motor vehicle by a tired driver is dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that over 100,000 traffic collisions each year are caused by sleep deprived motor vehicle operators and that sleep deprivation causes upwards of 1,500 fatal accidents each year in the U.S. Similar to being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, sleep deprivation inhibits a driver’s ability to perceive and react to the road and leads to driving errors. Based upon numerous expert studies and analysis, reduced alertness caused by driver fatigue can be most often correlated to late night and early morning driving, which is engaged in by commercial truckers much more than other types of drivers. In fact, many studies have concluded that episodes of drowsy driving are up to 8 times more likely between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. than during any other time in a 24 hour period. The natural circadian rhythm of the human body drives down alertness in these late night and early morning hours.

Rules of Commercial Truck Drivers Related to Sleep and Driving Hours

The high incidence of sleep deprived truck driver crashes led the federal agency in charge of commercial drivers (The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), to enact new rules in July of 2013. In short (and depending upon the nature of the trucking operation) these regulations require the following:

  • Once a trucker reports on duty, they can work / drive for a maximum of a 14 hour shift before being required to go off duty or into the sleeper “berth” (sleeping portion of their truck cab) for 10 hours
  • During this 14 hour shift, the trucker is not allowed to operate their big rig for more than 11 hours.
  • Truckers cannot drive more than 60 hours in any 7 day period or 70 hours in any 8 day work period

While these new regulations do seem to be having an effect on reducing trucking accidents on our California and U.S. highways, trucking is still and will remain a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week business. While restrictions can be made on total number of hours driven vs. rest time, there will still be hundreds of truckers operating semis on the freeways and highways of the Golden State during late night and early morning hours. Therefore, commercial truck accidents caused partially or wholly by trucker fatigue will never be completely eliminated.

The Role of a California Trucking Accident Attorney in Detecting Crashes Caused by Drowsy Driving

It is never easy to prove that a traffic collision between a tractor trailer and another car, truck or passenger vehicle was caused by a sleepy truck driver. Drivers rarely admit that they were fatigued prior to the crash. Likewise, due to the adrenaline rush following such a calamity, it isn’t easy for investigating officers from the California Highway Patrol of other agencies to detect that a driver was sleepy prior to the crash. The role of a quality CA trucking accident claims lawyer is to get to the hear of the truth by analyzing the physical evidence at the scene, the trucking logs, the company policies and procedures on driving fleet training and a lot of other information. A good accident attorney can employ experts to determine if there is evidence of such as a lack of evidence of any braking just prior to impact, a violation of regulations regarding sleep, a failure to attempt to avoid the crash and many other indications of a sleepy truck driver. This makes it crucial to consult and retain an attorney familiar with California trucking accidents to have your best chance of finding maximum liability on the trucking company or independent truck driver.

  • The Handbook of Operator Fatigue, Gerald Matthews
Client Reviews
I have known Steven for some time now and when his services were required he jumped in and took control of my cases. I had two and they were handled with the utmost professionalism and courtesy. He went the extra mile regardless of the bumps in the road. I can not see me using any other attorney and I would recommend him to any of my family and friends. Josie A.
Steven was vital during our most trying time. He was referred by a friend after an accident that involved a family member. While he was critical and lying in the hospital, Steven was kind, patient and knowledgeable about what we were going through. Following our loss, Steven became a tough and aggressive negotiator and made sure that we receive a huge compensation. I would refer Steven in fact, this happened 2 years ago and I still speak highly of his service. Cheryl S.
Mr. Sweat is a pitbull in the courtroom as well as settlement negotiations - You can't have a better equipped attorney in your corner! It is a pleasure working as colleagues together on numerous cases. He can get the job done. Jonathan K.
Because of Steven Sweat, my medical support was taken care of. Plus, I had more money to spare for my other bills. Steven is not only an excellent personal injury lawyer, providing the best legal advice, but also a professional lawyer who goes beyond his call of duty just to help his clients! He stood up for me and helped me get through the process. I would definitely recommend. I couldn't think of any better lawyer than him. MiraJane C.
I must tell anyone, if you need a great attorney, Steve sweat is the guy! I had an awful car accident and had no idea where to turn. He had so much to deal with because my accident was a 4 car pile up. Not to mention all the other cars were behind me and they were not wanting to settle in any way! He never stopped working for me and had my best interest at heart! Audra W.
I believe I made the best choice with Steven M Sweat, Personal Injury. I was very reluctant to go forward with my personal injury claim. I had a valid claim and I needed a professional attorney to handle it. I felt so much better when I let Steven take my case. His team did everything right and I am very satisfied. Stia P.
I have to say that Steve has been exemplary! I met Steve at a point with my case that I was ready to give up. He took the time and dealt with all of my concerns. Most importantly, he was present and listened to what I was going through. He was able to turn things around, put me and my case on the right track! The results were better that expected! Highly recommend!! Cody A.