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Experts disagree on truck driver fatigue

Truck driver fatigue continues to be such a point of contention because it is hotly debated by experts on both sides.

It is easy to imagine that drowsy drivers pose a serious risk. Every so often, a high-profile accident occurs, and it turns out that a driver nodded off behind the wheel or had not slept in so long that his or her reaction time was lacking.

One study carried out by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) claimed that 31 percent of fatal truck accidents it covered could be traced back to fatigue. That’s a huge number, with thousands upon thousands of trucks on the roads of Kentucky alone. That percentage was also higher than the study found for drugs or alcohol. It looked like fatigue was the most dangerous issue facing truckers at the time.

However, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) claimed to have studied federal data and found that deadly accidents linked to drowsy driving in under 2 percent of cases. They were looking directly at police reports.

Of course, one of the reasons that these numbers are so hard to pin down is that you cannot run a test to see if a driver fell asleep. A driver may be inclined to lie or may honestly not remember nodding off.

Even accounting for that, the ATA says that around 7 percent of semi accidents likely connect to fatigue. That’s far more than they saw in the data but still far less than the NTSB study.

Have you been hit by a drowsy driver? If so, you must know your rights. All it takes is one accident to change your life forever.

Source: New York Times, “Truckers Resist Rules on Sleep, Despite Risks of Drowsy Driving,” Jad Mouawad and Elizabeth A. Harris, accessed June 14, 2018