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The role of fatigue in truck accidents

Many long-haul drivers would say that fatigue simply comes with the job. Sitting behind the wheel for hours a day can be more exhausting than people think, and then there is the possibility that a truck driver does not get good sleep or enough sleep when not behind the wheel. For these and other reasons, fatigue tends to play a role in many truck accidents whether they occur here in California or elsewhere.

Sleep deprivation tends to be in the top 10 when it comes to factors leading to accidents involving truck drivers. The federal government puts limitations on how long truckers can be on the road, but the regulations cannot force a driver to sleep. Even if a driver gets a few hours of sleep a night, it may not be enough to ward off fatigue. The longer that a driver is sleep deprived, the more dangerous he or she becomes.

In fact, going without sleep for 24 hours makes a driver as dangerous as one with a blood alcohol concentration of around .10. In one study, around 25 percent of truck drivers surveyed admitted they fell asleep behind the wheel at least once in the prior month. Most experts recommend anywhere between seven and nine hours of sleep a night in order to feel rested. Any less than that creates an inverse relationship between loss of sleep and an increased risk of causing an accident.

When California residents become victims of truck accidents, one of the first things examined is whether the truck driver experienced fatigue in the hours prior to the crash. If the evidence shows that the driver failed to get adequate rest, or any rest at all, in the hours and days prior to the accident, that fact could provide evidence of negligence. Establishing fault is an essential component in personal injury and wrongful death claims pursuing restitution for the associated financial losses.

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