A previous post on this blog talked about the hours-of-service regulations that many commercial truckers are required to follow.

That post explained that drivers who spend too much time on the road in violation of these regulations can face penalties. Incidentally, an injured Kentucky resident can also use a violation as proof of a truck driver’s negligence in an accident.

Practically speaking, following the hours-of-service rules are important to follow because drowsy driving is a huge problem among all drivers, but especially among commercial truckers and other professional drivers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, estimates that nearly half of all drivers have nodded off while behind the wheel within the last 30 days. However, drowsy driving causes other safety issues even if the driver manages to stay awake.

A fatigued driver will have slower reaction times, meaning he or she cannot respond quickly to an emergency. Fatigued drivers also tend to get distracted easily and may exhibit some poor judgment while behind the wheel.

It is therefore not surprising that the CDC attributes tens of thousands of automobile accidents, as well as hundreds of serious injuries and fatalities, each year.  In fact, the CDC believes the problem is far more pervasive than the numbers suggest.

Sadly, these accidents and injuries are preventable.

Many of these accidents happen because a driver has an untreated medical condition or is using medicine which makes them unusually tired. Alcohol and drugs can also cause a driver to feel drowsy, even if he or she is not legally intoxicated.

However, the single biggest cause of drowsy driving is lack of quality sleep, and that is where the hours-of-service rules come in.  When drivers ignore or try to skirt these regulations, they put others at risk because they are cutting into their sleep time.