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The Dangers of Driving Drowsy

Driving impaired doesn’t have to mean driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It can also mean driving while drowsy—a practice that leads to more than 100,000 crashes each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of this total, 40,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths are reported. In fact, a study showed that driving while being awake for 18 hours was the same as driving with a blood alcohol level of .05. Driving after being awake for 24 hours was equal to a blood alcohol level of .10—a level of .08 is legally drunk.

As with drunk driving, sleep-deprived driving also inhibits a person’s reaction time, judgment, and vision; causes problems with information processing and short-term memory; decreases awareness, and increases aggressiveness.

Unfortunately, in the commercial truck driving culture, getting behind the wheel, despite a lack of sleep, happens all too often as drivers push to make their deliveries on time, so it’s no surprise that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration notes that fatigue is a leading factor in large truck crashes. Last year, however, Congress mandated that truckers drive no more than 70 hours per week (down from a maximum of 82 hours), have at least 34 hours of rest in between workweeks, and drive no more than 11 hours per day with a 30-minute break thrown in.

One such crash that has recently brought more attention to the dangers of driving while drowsy took place on June 7, 2014—just one day after Senator Susan Collins proposed an amendment to curb restrictions on truck drivers’ hours—and involved comedian and actor Tracy Morgan. His limo was rear-ended on the New Jersey Turnpike by Wal-Mart truck driver, Kevin Roper, who had reportedly not slept for more than 24 hours. In the resulting six-car pile-up, Tracy Morgan and two others were critically injured and Morgan’s friend and mentor, James McNair, was killed.

Accidents involving sleep-deprived commercial truck drivers are not a new trend: In June 2009, a tractor-trailer whose driver had been on the road for at least 11 hours crashed into several vehicles that were stopped in traffic on the Will Rogers Turnpike in Oklahoma. Ten people died as a result. Since 2009, there has been a steady increase in accidents involving large trucks.

If you—or someone you know—has been a victim of a truck driving accident, contact the lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys for a free consultation. Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys has an established history spanning more than 50 years of representing truck accident victims and winning large settlements and court cases for clients. We know how to secure accident scenes, preserve evidence, and take the necessary photos and witness statements needed to file your claim. Contact the attorneys at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys immediately: Simply send an e-mail or call them at 855-866-5529.

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