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Driver fatigue cited as common factor in trucking accidents

Without any loaded cargo, 18-wheelers and other large trucks can weigh approximately 10,000 pounds or even more. When loaded, the weight jumps up to nearly 80,000 pounds. Drivers behind the wheel of such terrifying large and heavy trucks need to be alert and on task in order to keep Georgia roadways as safe as possible, but driver fatigue and even DUIs are common factors in trucking accidents.

It can be understandably unnerving to drive nearby or pass one of these larger trucks, and worried drivers might be justified in their concern. When large trucks and smaller passenger vehicles collide, the vast majority of deaths occur in the passenger vehicle. Truck drivers account for only less than 5 percent of deaths, whereas occupants of the passenger vehicle experience a fatality rate of 97 percent. Of all car accidents that include a fatality, 18-wheelers are involved in 23 percent.

There is little doubt that large trucks are a significant danger to driver safety, but what exactly is behind that? According to research, driver fatigue plays a large role in these types of wrecks. Many truck drivers are behind the wheel for excessively long hours, and many experience too little sleep or interrupted sleep cycles that lead to fatigue. This is especially true for drivers who violate the permitted hours of service, although data indicates that it only takes eight hours on the road to double a truck driver's chance of causing an accident.

While federal regulations do limit the amount of time a truck driver can be on the road, they exceed the eight hours it takes to increase the risk of a wreck and allows drivers to stay on the road for up to 11 hours. Even then, many drivers continue to violate these regulations, putting not only themselves at risk but also the motorists on Georgia highways and Interstates. When driver fatigue causes injury or worse, victims and their families are often best served by seeking justice through the civil courts. This is generally accomplished by the successful navigation of a personal injury claim that, upon completion, can provide necessary compensation for related damages.

Source: iihs.org, "Large Trucks", Accessed on Oct. 7, 2015

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