While sleep needs vary by person, most adults need a minimum of seven hours of sleep in order to function effectively the next day. Unfortunately, many truck drivers operate 18-wheelers and other large trucks with a sleep deficit. And while that may not sound very serious, consider that the National Sleep Foundation states that driving a vehicle once you have been awake for 18 hours is equivalent to driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent—legally drunk.
Two recent high-profile truck accident cases highlight the dangers of drowsy driving:
Tracy Morgan Truck Crash
Comedian Tracy Morgan and two other people were injured when a truck rear-ended the limo van they were riding in. Morgan’s friend, comedy writer James McNair, was killed in the accident. Police allege that the driver of the 2011 Peterbuilt truck, owned and operated by Walmart, had been awake for more than 24 hours at the time of the crash.
I-88 Tollway Crash
An Illinois Tollway employee was killed and a state trooper seriously injured when an 18-wheeler partially ran over the trooper’s squad car and plowed into the back of the stalled truck they were attempting to remove from the tollway. The driver of the 18-wheeler, Renato Velasquez, had allegedly been working for more than 36 hours on less than four hours of sleep when the crash occurred.
Drowsy Truckers Are Impaired Truckers
Federal rules prohibit interstate commercial drivers from driving more than 11 hours in one day and from being on duty for more than a 14-hour shift. However, some trucking companies push drivers to exceed these limits to increase their bottom line and some truck drivers exceed the limits in order to make more money. Either way, the result is not good news for those who share the road with drowsy truck drivers.
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