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Part I – Study: Fatigued drivers as dangerous as drunk drivers

They roll through Lake Charles all day and all night. Tractor-trailers move needed goods into our city and take locally produced products elsewhere. While most trucking is done carefully and safely, the industry is nevertheless plagued by violent truck accidents that result in serious injuries and deaths.

The most common cause of big rig crashes: Fatigued truck drivers. Because of the unique pay structure of trucking, most drivers earn more when they stay on the road as long as possible, often at the expense of sleep and rest. According to a new study, drivers who get less than four hours of sleep are as likely to make errors as those with blood-alcohol concentrations at 1.5 times the legal limit.

In Louisiana, the legal limit is 0.08 percent BAC (blood-alcohol content), so a sleep-deprived driver can be expected to exhibit the same poor judgment, reflexes, coordination and inability to focus as a person with a BAC of 0.12 percent.

Researchers for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reviewed data from more than 6.800 traffic crashes. All the drivers from those accidents were interviewed by investigators from the federal government’s Department of Transportation.

The drivers fall into one of two groups: culpable (they caused the crashes they were in) and those who were not responsible. Culpable drivers had made serious mistakes or taken actions that led to the wrecks. Inaction by culpable drives also led to some of the crashes.

Even those drivers who had less than seven hours or sleep were at higher risk of causing crashes, the data showed.

We will have more on the study in an upcoming post, so please stay tuned.

Also, please remember that those who are injured in motor vehicle accidents caused by sleepy, distracted or impaired drivers have the right to pursue full compensation for all damages with the help of a skilled attorney.

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