Truck driver fatigue causes many truck accidents in California and across the U.S. As a result, some truck drivers are turning to stimulants to stay awake. However, experts say this solution is dangerous and could lead to more accidents.
According to federal statistics, nearly 4,000 people were killed in large truck accidents in 2016. Of those victims, 83 percent were occupants of smaller vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists, while 17 percent were truck drivers. Fatigue is a common cause of truck accidents. This is because truckers often work long hours and are pressured to meet hectic travel schedules. The problem is even worse on long-haul trips. In fact, 65 percent of all truck crashes occur on trips longer than 51 miles. Meanwhile, a survey found that 25 percent of truckers admit to falling asleep behind the wheel in the last 30 days.
Many truck drivers use stimulants to stay awake behind the wheel. Most only use coffee or other sources of caffeine, but around 0.6 percent use stronger drugs like cocaine, amphetamines or methamphetamine to perk up. These drugs can have a negative impact on many areas of a driver's performance, including his or her cognitive and motor functions, focus, attention span, impulse control and decision making. In addition, drivers can experience side effects like paranoia, aggression, extreme sleepiness and delusions when coming down from stimulant drugs. Any of these reactions could cause truck drivers to lose control of their vehicle and cause a horrific crash.
Victims of truck accidents may be owed compensation for their losses. An attorney familiar with truck accident claims might review a victim's case and help file a personal injury lawsuit seeking damages. This may lead to a financial settlement that covers medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, pain and suffering and property loss.