Commercial motor vehicle drivers in West Virginia and across the U.S. are liable to work while in a drowsy state of mind, which is dangerous. Research shows, for example, that being awake for 18 consecutive hours impairs one in the same way that having a BAC of .08 does.
Before anything else, truckers need to ensure that they get adequate sleep. If possible, they should also avoid driving during those lulls that everyone experiences during the day. One lull comes usually between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., and another is between midnight and 6 a.m. Truckers should be able to recognize the symptoms of drowsiness like heavy eyelids, continual yawning and short-term memory lapses.
Truckers are to be careful about what they consume, too, and how much. They should neither eat heavy before bed nor go to sleep on an empty stomach. They should avoid all medications that induce drowsiness, including cold and allergy medicines. If they are feeling fatigued in the middle of the day, they can consider a 45-minute nap. Naps are more restorative than coffee, which is only useful for a short energy boost.
Moreover, truckers do not want to develop a false sense of security through ineffectual “alertness tricks.” Tricks including rolling down the window, smoking and turning the volume on the radio up are not helpful.
Drowsiness impairs judgment, reaction times and other qualities necessary to keeping one’s self and others on the road safe. A truck collision involving a drowsy trucker can form the basis for a personal injury claim. Plaintiffs, as long as they are less than 50% at fault themselves, may be eligible for compensatory damages. Achieving those damages, though, might be hard since trucking companies are often aggressive in denying claims. Victims may want a lawyer to assist with every step.