Most of us probably have experienced a scary moment of nodding off behind the wheel in the middle of the night. National studies show that driving overnight during the hours between midnight and 6 a.m. increases the risk of sleep-deprivation related to motor vehicle crashes. Because humans are affected by neurobiological factors that regulate the timing and desire to sleep at specific hours, even night owls will have difficulty staying completely focused on driving at night. Our circadian cycles correspond with daylight and darkness, training our brains and bodies to function at their optimal states during daytime and to rest overnight. As a result, driving during nighttime hours can come with certain dangers, such as:
- Slower or delayed reaction times
- Reduced vigilance
- Memory lapses
- Dozing off involuntarily
- Inability to keep eyes open
- Drifting from lanes
- Overall performance impairment
Staying awake for extended periods of time can have an equivalent effect on a person as alcohol intoxication. For example, after 24 hours awake, you can feel the same level of cognitive impairment as someone with a blood alcohol content of 0.10 percent, over the legal limit in most states. Driving overnight after a full day without sleep will undoubtedly heighten your risks of getting into a serious auto accident.
Houston Commercial Truck Drivers
Commercial truck drivers are especially at risk for overnight driving accidents. Thousands of cargo trucks and tractor-trailers travel through Houston on Interstates 10 and 45 and U.S. Highway 59 to make overnight deliveries. However, truck operators working during normal sleeping hours often suffer from fatigue and drowsiness. Even though the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration imposes regulations to limit maximum driving hours, commercial truck drivers still must work long shifts, and lack of sufficient rest remains a major contributing factor to fatal truck crashes. Many employees violate federal rules on work hour limits in order to increase their earned income. Unfortunately, unsafe overnight driving practices puts all vehicles on the road in danger.
In addition to sleep-deprivation, overnight truck drivers face other challenges that can potentially lead to an overnight driving accident, including:
- Reduced road visibility: Poor lighting at night can cause misjudgment in depth perception and space.
- Distracted driving: Because the volume of traffic is low overnight, drivers can become complacent cruising through the city on I-45, I-10 or U.S. 59, and fail to pay full attention to the road. They might be tempted to talk on a cellphone or turn to food, drinks, or entertainment in order to keep awake.
- Vehicle size: Larger vehicles such as tractor-trailers require more stopping time than regular passenger cars, and the driver might not react fast enough to avoid a sudden collision.
Compensation for Truck Accidents
Unexpected commercial truck accidents can happen to even the most seasoned drivers. When you suffer a traumatizing truck accident injury, you might be unable to return to work right away, and feel overwhelmed by financial setbacks. An experienced Houston truck accident lawyer can help you recover the compensation that you deserve so that you and your family can go through the healing process with peace of mind.
At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our personal injury lawyers have years of experience in representing truck accident victims throughout Texas. In the past, we have successfully recovered millions of dollars in damages for our clients injured in trucking accidents. Call us today at (281) 283-8500 to schedule a free individual case consultation.