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  • Drowsy driving is estimated to cause up to 6,000 fatal wrecks each year.
  • Commercial drivers may be more likely than Non-Commercial drivers to drive drowsy.
  • People who snore or sleep 6 or fewer hours at a stretch are more likely to drive drowsy.

 

dangers of drowsy drivingWhen you are involved in a car or big truck accident, you are understandably anxious. Due to the catastrophic and powerful nature of car and big truck accidents, victims are often left with severe physical injuries, emotional turmoil, and financial difficulties.

Our Charlotte truck accident attorneys are here for you and your family if you fall victim to a drowsy driver. Here is some helpful info about drowsy driving.

 

Drowsy Driving and Big Rigs

No one can argue that truck driving is a tiring job. The occupation may not always require heavy lifting, but it does require driving for long stretches of time while remaining alert, something that can be difficult to do.

According to a study released by the University of Minnesota, Morris, commercial truck drivers who have obstructive sleep apnea and do not adhere to their treatment protocols are at five times greater risk of crashing.

Sleep apnea, a disorder that causes people to momentarily stop breathing when they are asleep, causes daytime sleepiness. This, in turn, can result in drivers who are too fatigued to be on the road. Obstructive sleep apnea is estimated to affect nearly 25 million adults in this country.

For the study, researchers looked at 1,613 truck drivers diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and 1,613 drivers without the disorder. They looked at drivers with similar experience and approximately the same number of hours on the road. The drivers with obstructive sleep apnea were all given the same prescribed therapy. Close to 700 drivers followed the treatment, 600 followed it partially and 400 did not follow it t all.

The rate of preventable accidents among truck drivers who did not follow their prescribed obstructive sleep apnea therapy was five times greater than those who did. Those drivers who only partially followed the therapy had a crash rate similar to those who followed it completely.

The study shows that untreated obstructive sleep apnea is a danger to transportation safety. The recommendation of researchers is to screen all potential commercial truck drivers for the condition and to treat those who are found to have the disorder. Both the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced that they would be gathering more information on the effects of obstructive sleep apnea on their workers.


All Drivers Need to Be Awake

According to a survey of 150,000 adults, 4 percent reported falling asleep within the past 30 days. One of the best ways to prevent drowsy driving, aside from catching enough ZZZs at night, is to know the warning signs of drowsy driving.  Even though we discuss commercial drivers in this post, everyone should know that ANY driver that is drowsy driving is dangerous whether they are in a semi or in a car, van, SUV, etc.

If you notice that you or your driver are showing any of these signs while you’re driving, it’s time to get off the road.

  1. Yawning

This is an obvious sign of being tired, but a yawn here and there also signals boredom. What you want to notice is frequent yawning.

If you notice frequent yawning in a short period of time, chances are high that it would be a good idea to take a break from the road.

 

  1. Zoning Out

We’ve all been in that place where we can’t remember how we got where we are. This is especially true of commuters who take the same route every day. Our brains go on a sort of auto pilot and we discover that we can’t really recall getting to work.

This is normal but still dangerous. It’s even more dangerous if you don’t take the same route every day and still find yourself wondering about the last few miles.

 

  1. Missing Exits

You’re driving down the highway and thinking about something else when all of a sudden you miss your exit. It’s not something to be too concerned about. It’s when you weren’t really thinking about anything else that you need to worry.

If you miss an exit, or several exits, you could be too tired to drive. It may be time to just pull over for a while and take a nap.

 

  1. Drifting

All the sudden you find yourself jerking the wheel to the right to get fully back in your lane. The next thing you know, you’re moving to the left to get back into your lane.

Drifting is a common sign that someone is too tired to operate their vehicle. If you find yourself drifting, ask yourself if you may be too drowsy to drive.

 

  1. Rumbling

Those rumble strips on the side of the road are there to alert you to something. It may be that you’re drifting too far, or it may be that you need to slow down. If you’re hitting the rumble strips on the side of the road and aren’t trying to get off at an exit, you’re drifting.

The vibration and noise from driving on rumble strips will hopefully wake you up and make you realize that your driving is not at its best. If you can’t stay off the strips, it’s time for a rest.

 

Speak to an Experienced Charlotte Truck Accident Attorney Today

If you have been involved in a car or big truck accident in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina, you need an experienced injury law firm like Auger & Auger on your side. Having an advocate by your side as you move forward after your accident is one of the many potential benefits of hiring our law firm.  Call us today at1-855-969-5730 to find out more.

Call our team of Charlotte truck accident attorneys today for a free case evaluation and discover your options. We are here for you. Call today.

Drowsy Driving Road SignYou’ve been awake for 18 hours, but you think you can make it. You’re fairly certain that you can get behind the wheel and drive safely. But wait. What you may not know is that staying awake for 18 hours does to your body what a few drinks can. Your body and brain will react in the same way that someone with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% does. Are you at risk for driving while drowsy? If any of the following apply to you, you are too tired to drive safely.

  1. Lack of Sleep

Most adults need six hours or more of sleep in order to function properly. If you have gotten less than six hours, chances are that your reaction time will be dulled, your senses will slow, and you are simply not ready to get behind the wheel of any vehicle.

  1. Insomnia

Worse than a night’s lack of sleep is true insomnia. If you aren’t sleeping at all, you have no business driving.

  1. Long Distances

Do not drive long distances without a plan in place. You should stop every 100 miles or every two hours. You can be the judge of which is best for you. Stop, get out of the car, stretch your arms and shoulders, and take a brisk walk. This will wake you up and get the blood flowing again.

  1. Night Driving

You think that you will drive at night because there will be less traffic. You want to leave early in the morning to beat rush hour. Be careful of driving when you would normally be asleep. If you can, adjust your sleep schedule a few days before your trip to give your body time to adjust.

  1. Driving Solo

If you can drive with a companion, do so. Not only will you have someone with you to keep you awake, but you have someone who can take over if you feel yourself getting drowsy. This is especially helpful if you will be driving down long, boring roads with little to look at but the pavement ahead.

Thousands of people die every year due to drowsy driving. Do not add yourself to that number. By knowing when you are too tired to drive, you keep yourself and everyone else on the road safe.

If you have been injured in an auto accident, call our personal injury attorneys today. We will review the facts of your case at no cost to you. Call us now.

Photo Credit

download (14)There are several primary causes for accidents in the US. The largest reason that people get into car accidents is that there was a moment of inattentiveness behind the wheel. This inattentiveness can come about for many reasons.

What happens when the driver falls asleep behind the wheel and someone gets killed?

Jackie’s son and four others were killed in a crash in Hendersonville.  She remembers every moment that happened after that, “Ma’am there’s been a terrible accident.” Those are indeed the words that nobody wants to hear coming from troopers standing at your front door.

The accident was caused by a trucker who fell asleep at the wheel.  Jackie decided to devote her life to making sure that the roads are safer, and that truckers are driving less, not more.  Unfortunately, a proposal was passed that allows drivers to drive 82 hours a week instead of 70.

“If you’re driving 70 miles per hour and you have a micro-sleep for only three seconds, you’ve driven a football field,” she said.

Who pays for the crashes that happen as a result of the fatigued driving?  Is it on the drivers, or those who allow the drivers to be on the road?  Who makes sure that justice is served I these incidents? At Auger Law, we have over 20 years of experience helping accident victims get the justice and settlements that they deserve.  If you’ve been injured in an accident, give us a call for your free consultation.  We can help.

Tractor trailerEarlier this month a tractor-trailer carrying orange juice crashed along North Carolina’s Interstate 95. The driver fell asleep at the wheel and the truck traveled into the median and hit the guardrail. The passenger was killed and the driver suffered injuries. The driver was charged with careless and reckless driving and misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. Similarly, a truck driver in New England has been criminally charged following a fatal accident with a motorcyclist. The driver was operating a fuel truck for his employer and struck the motorcyclist after failing to yield. Due to previous license suspensions for a prior DUI, the driver was required to only drive vehicles with an ignition interlock device installed. The fuel truck did not have an ignition interlock device, and it is unclear whether the employer was aware that the driver was legally not allowed to drive without one.

The consequences of a large truck collision are often dire. Large trucks are more unwieldy and take longer to decelerate. Commercial driver inexperience, exhaustion, and impairment are a few of the other factors that can lead to tragic accidents. Liability for injuries can extend past the commercial driver to the trucking company for poorly maintained vehicles, inadequate inspections, and improperly loaded trucks. Manufacturers of the truck or instruments used by the truck may also contribute to an injury-causing accident.

At the end of last year, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an unpublished opinion that looked at whether or not the manufacturers of a texting system installed in the cab of the truck should be held liable to the family who suffered injuries and the death of their child following an accident by a truck driver who was texting using the system. The family appealed a lower court ruling, asserting that the texting product required the driver to look at the texts from the dispatcher instead of the road while the vehicle was moving. The manufacturer denied that they owed a duty of care to the family. The lower court and appellate court both held that the manufacturer was not responsible for the driver’s misuse of the texting system.

All personal injury and product liability actions require the following to be shown: 1) that a duty of care was owed to the injured, 2) that there was a failure in that duty, 3) that an injury occurred as a result of that failure, and 4) the amount of damages that resulted from the injury, otherwise known as the monetary compensation that would be needed to be in the same position prior to the accident. Immediate documentation and investigation following an accident can help preserve evidence of negligence on the part of the commercial driver, trucking company, or truck manufacturer.

The North Carolina truck accident attorneys at Auger and Auger, aggressively pursue every avenue of legal relief available to provide you and your family with the compensation that is needed. They have several years of experience dealing with auto and commercial vehicle insurance companies, and understand what is needed to successfully litigate a personal injury claim. If you or a family member has been injured in a commercial truck accident, call our office for a free, confidential consultation at (704) 364-3361 or (800) 559-5741.

MORE BLOG POSTS:

North Carolina Teens Injured in Highway Car Accident, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, June 19, 2013

North Carolina Texters May Need to Refrain From Texting Friends On the Road, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, May 20, 2013

Speeding BusEarly this morning, a Sky Express tour bus which departed out of Greensboro, North Carolina, crashed, killing 4 and injuring at least 50 others. Police cite driver fatigue as the cause of the wreck.

The tour bus, which left North Carolina at 10:30pm on Monday, was on its way to Chinatown in New York City. The bus veered off I95 north of Richmond, Virginia and hit an embankment, causing it to overturn.

According to USA Today, records from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation) reveal that Sky Express has one of the lowest safety ratings of all motorcoach carriers. In the last 2 years, Sky Express has been cited for 24 fitness violations that were bad enough that drivers were prohibited from driving until the problems were remedied. An additional 46 violations were issued for violating rules governing the length of time a driver can be behind the wheel, and violations of logbook requirements.

This comes on the heels of another fatal tour bus wreck that likely was caused by driver fatigue. On March 12, 2011, a tour bus carrying 31 passengers, crashed in Chinatown, killing 15 people and injuring the rest. Investigators are trying to determine whether the driver fell asleep at the wheel. The bus company involved in that wreck, World Wide Tours of Greater New York, has also been cited for violations of driver fatigue regulations.

During the time period of March 28, 2011 thru April 6, 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation conducted approximately 2,800 random safety inspections across the country of motorcoach carriers. Inspectors found so many violations that nearly 10 percent of buses or drivers were removed from the road.

As we have previously reported in our North Carolina Person Injury Lawyers blog, there are approximately 56,000 accidents each year that are caused by driver fatigue. While there are currently no tests to determine just how tired a driver is, an experienced attorney can conduct a proper investigation into driver fatigue, especially those required to maintain logbooks.

The driver of a tour bus involved in a deadly crash on I95 in New York City is now under federal investigation. Ophadell Williams was driving a tour bus with 31 passengers, from casinos in Connecticut back to Chinatown in Manhattan when he crashed, killing 15 people, and injuring the rest.

Williams told investigating officers that his bus had been clipped by a tractor trailer tuck, causing him to swerve to the right, sideswipe a guardrail for 300 feet, and ultimately crash into a support pole for a highway sign which sheared through the bus, tearing the roof off.

But passengers are telling a different story, prompting an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). An investigating officer, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, stated that passengers aboard the bus noted that the driver had swerved several times prior to the crash, and further, they did not feel any impact before the crash. This officer also interviewed other drivers on I95 at the time of the crash and no one saw the bus get hit. He also reported that the driver had an incomplete log book, something that is required for commercial drivers. Another source said Williams was speeding.

Although federal rules do not prevent those with a criminal record from being issued a bus license, there are rules that prevent a convicted felon from holding a commercial drivers license. Federal investigators have learned that Williams is a convicted felon, having served 2 prison terms, one for manslaughter, and one for grand larceny, and the he used aliases at the time of his convictions.

In addition to digging deeper into Williams criminal background and use of aliases, investigators will also be reviewing surveillance tapes from the casinos to determine whether Williams consumed alcohol prior to the crash, and to see what he was doing in the hours that lead up to the crash. The engine-control module, similar to a black-box on a plane, has been sent to Washington, DC for downloading at the NTSB lab.

Investigators will also try to determine whether Williams simply fell asleep while driving. Williams employer, World Wide Tours of Greater New York, is no stranger to driver fatigue issues. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has put World Wide Tours on notice of potential extra scrutiny for violations of driver fatigue regulations due to 2 prior accidents involving injury in the last 2 years. Police have already confirmed that Williams logbook was incomplete.

According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 56,000 accidents occur each year due to driver fatigue, resulting in 40,000 injuries, and 1,500 fatalities. NHTSA has identified several characteristics of fatigue related accidents: accident occurs late at night, early morning, or midafternoon; the wreck is serious, a single vehicle leaves the roadway, the wreck happens on a road with a high speed limit, and the driver does not try to prevent crashing. Unfortunately, there are no tests to determine how tired a driver is. An experienced injury attorney can conduct a proper investigation into driver fatigue, particularly those required to mainain driving logs.

When people hear the term Driving While Impaired, or Driving Under the Influence, they usually think alcohol is involved, however, North Carolina law also includes operating under the influence of impairing substances, both legal and illegal. A school bus driver in Randolph County has been charged with speeding and driving left of center, and the pending toxicology tests could result in more charges.

The driver admitted taking a sedating allergy medicine the night before he crashed a school bus occupied by students. The bus hit a mailbox before careening down a ditch. One student suffered minor injuries.

If you or a family member has been injured due to an impaired driver, call Auger & Auger for your free consultation to see how we can help.

News Channel 7 and Blue Ridge Now report that six people were injured Monday in Henderson, North Carolina in two separate accidents in which drivers fell asleep while driving. This resulted in road closures in both cases.

The first accident occurred at approximately 10:45 Monday morning. Investigators state that Jeremy Parker was driving with a revoked license and was driving while impaired when his Dodge Neon crossed the center line, striking an oncoming Honda Pilot. Both vehicles flipped over, and both the driver and passenger of the Honda were trapped and had to be extricated. All three people remain at Mission Hospital, with the driver of the Honda in critical condition. Investigators declined to state what substance Parker was under the influence of.

The second accident occurred a few hours later, at approximately 5:30 pm. Highway Patrol states that Robert Perry Stevenson fell asleep and crossed the center line on U.S. 64, hitting a Lincoln MKZ head-on. Troopers had to extricate all victims, and Stevenson was airlifted to Mission Hospital.

North Carolina Males More Likely to Fall Asleep

A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in conjunction with the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) found that 75% of all accidents in North Carolina involving drivers who fell asleep at the wheel involved males. The study also found that drivers under the age of 30 caused nearly two-thirds of fall asleep accidents, yet this segment of the population only accounts for one fourth of licensed drivers. The study suggested that young males were at the highest risk for falling asleep at the wheel due to physical changes in maturity that increase the need for sleep, and insufficient sleep.

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