Truck drivers are required to drive hundreds of miles as part of their job. Occasionally, some drivers pass their daily driving limit and drive beyond what their body can handle, placing themselves and others in dangerous scenarios resulting in car accidents. A common scenario that we see in Texas is that of a truck driver whose drowsy driving and sleep apnea have caused a collision. So what happens if you're a part of that collision? How do you know if the truck driver fell asleep while driving?
Truck Movement Before Collision
One way to figure out if the truck driver was asleep is to analyze the truck’s path before the collision, in addition to searching for skid marks along the road before impact. An alert and awake truck driver (or any driver in general) will typically attempt to change their driving path if they sense an immediate danger, such as viewing ice on the road, an obstacle, or a pedestrian crossing. However, when the human body is fatigued, the brain experiences a drop in focus and concentration, resulting in the inability to activate their “fight-or-flight” response, or the ability to make quick decisions in a stressful event.
As a result, a driver who is awake will attempt to dramatically change their course if they perceive that a car is getting too close. While changing course, the trucker will turn sharply and apply the truck’s brakes, thus leaving a trail of skid marks behind. The skid marks can be used for vehicular accident reconstruction, a process whereby the circumstances before impact are determined. If there are no curved skid marks and the truck hit the other vehicle head-on, then it is very likely that the truck driver was asleep.
(Also Read: How Many Hours Can a Trucker Drive In a Day?)
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck drivers to carry logbooks to record their daily activity with the aim of documenting driving hours and to monitor the driver’s sleep time.
If you have been involved in an accident with a truck driver, you may request the logbook to be inspected in a trial. If there are any gaps or inconsistencies within the logbook, or if the driver has not documented sufficient sleep time, then it can be a clear indicator that the truck driver who hit you was driving drowsy.
Time of Day
If you believe the truck driver who hit you fell asleep at the wheel, document the time of day the accident occurred. Recording the time of day is helpful when investigating the driver’s conscious condition. There is a big difference between driving at two in the afternoon and driving at two in the morning, as this affects road conditions and alertness. If you were hit between midnight and five in the morning, it is more likely that the truck driver was drowsy and fell asleep at the wheel.
Know When to Call an Attorney
If you suspect the truck driver who hit you fell asleep at the wheel, it's a good idea to consult a board certified accident attorney. An attorney will know exactly how to gather evidence to prove fault in an accident, and will take over your case to ensure you get the compensation you deserve for your damages and injuries.
Not sure if you should handle your truck accident case on your own? Read my article on the subject: Can I Handle My Truck Wreck Injury Claim Without a Lawyer?
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If you or someone you love has been hurt in a semi-truck accident, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. You’re missing work, you might have unpaid medical bills, you’re in pain and you feel uncertain about the future.
I wrote this guide to help accident victims understand the right steps to take after an accident to ensure they get the money they need to pay for their injuries, damages, lost wages and pain and suffering.
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