Tired truckers cause accidents everywhere they go. However, in tight Boston streets, where other drivers have no room to maneuver, dangers posed by fatigued truck drivers rise exponentially. This blog explains why truck driver fatigue causes so many problems in Boston.
The Dangers Caused by Drowsy Truck Drivers in Boston
causes hundreds of fatalities in the United States each year. When truck drivers drive while tired, they pose even greater risks to other motorists due to the size of their vehicles. Here are some of the main issues caused by drowsiness:
Fatigued truck drivers may not react to changing road conditions.
Road conditions can change in an instant. Truck drivers need to react at a moment’s notice when conditions change around them, whether they encounter a driver slamming on their brakes or a wet or icy patch on the road. Fatigued truck drivers may have slow reflexes, making it much more challenging to keep up with conditions around them.
Drowsy drivers often fail to notice their surroundings.
Fatigue makes it very difficult for drivers to keep up with traffic moving around them. Truck drivers need to keep track of other vehicles, traffic lights, and traffic signs, as well as their blind spots. They also have to be mindful of their trucks, ensuring that they can keep their cargo as safe as possible.
Fatigue, however, makes it very difficult for truck drivers to pay attention to everything happening around them. They may lose track of a driver in their blind spots or have trouble keeping up with changing traffic patterns. They might fail to notice that a traffic light has changed. Each of these failures can cause a collision.
Fatigue can also cause tunnel vision, which means drivers may lose sensory input from anything but what takes place directly in front of them. Due to Boston’s heavy pedestrian and bicycle traffic, truck drivers must pay attention to smaller profiles than the average passenger vehicle. If truck drivers have tunnel vision, they may fail to see a cyclist and cause a deadly accident.
Fatigue makes it difficult for truck drivers to navigate safely.
The narrow streets of Boston—initially designed for much smaller vehicles and much less traffic—can be challenging to navigate even on a good day. Often, truck drivers struggle to maintain their positions in narrow lanes, even when fully awake. Safely navigating Boston roads while fatigued can be an impossible task.
Boston receives an average of 47 inches of rain and 48 inches of snow every year. When roads get slick with rain and snow, motorists must drive carefully to avoid accidents. Truck drivers, who maneuver thousands of pounds each time they drive, need even more control over their vehicles. Unfortunately, tired truck drivers cannot react as quickly as usual, making it harder to get through narrow Boston streets and avoid potential collisions.
Fatigued drivers can drift out of their lanes.
Fatigued drivers often allow their vehicles to wander, crossing over the line between lanes. Since most trucks do not have extra room to maneuver in the first place, drifting into another lane happens easily. Fatigued truck drivers who are not paying attention or who nod off behind the wheel can drift into other lanes in seconds.
Drifting trucks can cause some of the most deadly accidents. They often cause sideswipe collisions, particularly when other drivers have little room to maneuver. Furthermore, trucks may drift into oncoming traffic, increasing the risk of a serious head-on collision.
Fatigued drivers may act dazed.
Truck drivers spend many hours on the road. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck drivers can spend up to eleven hours out of each fourteen-hour shift on the road. Throughout those fourteen-hour shifts, many drivers grow increasingly tired. They may become dazed and drive without thinking, making it impossible for them to navigate safely.
Fatigue often leaves drivers in a haze, unable to think clearly. Fatigued drivers may forget the last several minutes, or even the last several hours, they spent on the road. Truck drivers might lose track of their route, which could take them well out of their way and lead to delivery delays. Fatigued drivers cannot adjust to challenges on the road or respond to threats that could lead to an accident.
Fatigue increases poor decision-making.
Fatigue interferes heavily with decision-making skills. In fact, the symptoms of extreme fatigue mimic many of the same symptoms as intoxication. Fatigued truck drivers may struggle to make safe decisions. Worse, tired truck drivers might not realize that they need to pull off the road, whether to take a brief rest or find a safe place to stop for the night.
Fatigued truck drivers may take more chances. They may speed to reach their destination before running out of hours they can legally spend on the road. Severely fatigued truck drivers may also ignore safety precautions, substantially raising the risk of collisions.
Fatigued truck drivers can fall asleep behind the wheel.
Sometimes, tired truck drivers fall asleep for brief periods and lose track of what happens on the road. Falling asleep for a few seconds at a time is called microsleep. Drivers could microsleep for minutes or doze for a few moments. Either way, when the driver sleeps, nobody controls the truck.
A runaway truck with a dozing driver will keep going until it crashes into something else, like another vehicle. A sleeping truck driver cannot hit the brakes to minimize a collision, which means that fatigued driving accidents may result in more significant injuries.
Why Do Truck Drivers in Boston Suffer From Fatigue?
Driver fatigue occurs for many reasons, outlined below.
Many trucking companies do not have adequate drivers.
A national shortage of truck drivers has led to goods shortages at many destinations. Trucking companies feel pressure to dispatch drivers without adequate rest, pushing the boundaries of FMCSA regulations and pressuring their drivers to get back on the road even when they are exhausted or sick. Unfortunately, trucking companies may not have enough drivers to keep up with the runs they need to make, much less to offer substitutes for ill or exhausted drivers.
Because of the shortage, truck drivers spend long hours behind the wheel. They may suffer from higher rates of fatigue and find themselves struggling to get an adequate break to catch up on rest and return to work safely.
Truck drivers work extended hours for days on end.
Many truck drivers spend long hours on the road each day. Since truck drivers can complete a fourteen-hour shift, many have very long workdays. They can also spend up to eleven hours actively behind the wheel. Therefore, truck drivers have little time to engage in other activities, even after their shifts end for the day. Over time, this can lead to steadily worsening fatigue.
Road monotony can increase symptoms of fatigue.
Driving long stretches of straight, monotonous roads can cause fatigue. Without anything new to do or look at, truck drivers may struggle to stay awake as they travel through dull areas. Even as they enter the streets of downtown Boston, truck drivers may have a hard time staying awake and aware of their surroundings at all times.
Truck drivers often spend days at a time away from home and their beds.
Sleeping in unfamiliar beds can make it more difficult for many truck drivers to fall asleep. While many get used to bedding down in the truck, those beds may not offer the same comfort as sleeping at home. Road noise and other ambient sounds may change from location to location, making it more difficult for truck drivers to get adequate rest at night. Furthermore, many truck drivers drink to alleviate symptoms of loneliness or fall asleep at night, increasing overall fatigue by decreasing the quality of sleep.
How Does Driver Fatigue Affect Trucking Accidents in Boston?
Driver fatigue may increase the severity of trucking accidents since fatigued drivers cannot respond appropriately to dangerous scenarios. When truck accident victims sustain more severe injuries, they may need to file more substantial truck accident claims to recover from their losses.
Depending on the situation, there may also be more than one party who is liable for the accident. A fatigued truck driver will often bear liability for an accident caused by their negligent driving, whether they drift into another lane or cause a rear-end collision. In some cases, the trucking company may also be liable if they contributed to the accident with negligent oversight or dangerous policies that pushed the driver to work despite fatigue.
If a fatigued truck driver injured you in an accident, having an attorney on your side can help you pursue the compensation you deserve for those injuries. An attorney can help investigate your truck accident claim, determine who bears liability for the accident, and give you a better idea of the compensation you might receive.
Contact an Attorney After Your Boston Truck Accident
Have you suffered severe injuries in an accident in Boston? An attorney can help you determine whether you have grounds for a personal injury claim and advise you on how to proceed. Contact a Boston truck accident attorney as soon as possible to receive comprehensive support as you move through your claim.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.