This morning, a semi truck ran into another big rig on the 60 Freeway in Pomona, California. The California Highway Patrol believes that the at-fault driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel.
Truck drivers are no strangers to drowsy driving. While there are federal hours of service regulations that prevent drivers from spending too many hours on the road without time to sleep, driving on highways for just a few hours can cause any driver to become drowsy and even fall asleep at the wheel.
In fact, 14 percent of all truck drivers admit to almost causing truck accidents because they have fallen asleep at the wheel or were simply too drowsy to drive. Unfortunately, the trucking environment does not encourage naps and truck drivers are afraid to admit to being sleepy for fear of losing their jobs.
Truck drivers are more at risk for sleep apnea and other sleep problems because of the nature of their jobs. Long hours combined with a poor sleeping environment and fast food diet can lead to obesity which, in turn, can lead to obstructive sleep apnea.
How can the environment be changed to prevent truck accidents caused by fatigue? The current regulations are based on a normal person's sleep cycle and do not take into account the many variables involved in both driving and sleep. Should drivers be encouraged to pull over and take naps when they are too tired to drive safely? Can trucking companies afford to put safety first?
It shouldn't take injuries and deaths to convince trucking companies to revise their policies, but that is all-too-often the case. If you have been injured in a truck accident caused by drowsy driving, you have every right to hold the truck driver and trucking company accountable for its negligence.
Source: NBC 4, "Big Rig Crashes Slow Morning Drive on 60 Freeway in Pomona," Jonathan Lloyd, Toni Guinyard, Mar. 7, 2013