According to state data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 791 traffic fatalities in Ohio that involved large commercial trucks. Drowsy driving is one of the leading causes of truck accidents in our state.
These crashes are often attributed to:
- Lack of adequate sleep — it's recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night
- Undiagnosed and untreated sleep disorders — sleep apnea, insomnia, and narcolepsy
- Use of prescription drugs — some prescription drugs can contribute to drowsiness
- Driving during overnight hours — drowsy driving crashes are more likely to occur between midnight - 6 a.m.
That's why we have federal hours-of-service (HOS) laws in place, to prevent truck crashes caused by drowsy drivers. The federal HOS laws impose an 11-hour cap on driving time within a 14-hour work shift. In addition, truck drivers are required to take 10 consecutive hours off between shifts in order to receive adequate sleep.
HOS laws have been temporarily lifted for some truck drivers
The HOS laws have been temporarily lifted for some truck drivers during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is the first time that the HOS laws have been lifted since they were first imposed in 1938.
While the suspension of the HOS laws doesn't apply to all truck drivers, it does apply to those who are transporting essential goods and medical services as outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The drivers exempt from the HOS laws include those who are transporting:
- Testing and diagnostic equipment
- Sanitary supplies — gloves, face masks, hand sanitizer, hand soap, and disinfectants
- Grocery store food and essential items
- Temporary housing for quarantine and isolation
- Medical personnel appointed to assist isolated or quarantined COVID-19 patients
Will we see an increase in drowsy driving truck accidents?
While it's critical that these supplies are made promptly available at this time, it's important that truck drivers receive adequate sleep and remain mentally sharp while driving. Many truck drivers will be under increased pressure to make deliveries and push beyond their normal limits. This can lead to fatigue and potentially increase the risk of drowsy driving crashes.
Drowsy driving truck crashes can be especially catastrophic, since truck drivers don't make any attempt to slow down, stop, or steer away from a collision. A single crash can result in multiple injuries to other road users and cause traffic delays for several hours.
The Ohio truck accident attorneys at Smith Law Office applaud the work and bravery of truck drivers during these tough times. We also want to ensure that motorists sharing the road with big rigs are safe, however. If you sustained injuries in a truck crash, don't hesitate to get legal help. Our legal team can help you obtain compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and other damages associated with your crash.
Contact us online or call 1-800-930-SCOTT to schedule your free, confidential case evaluation.