Special Factors Increase Risk of Nighttime Trucking Accidents in Georgia
The massive size and weight of tractor-trailers makes the force of impact in a trucking accident particularly dangerous for the occupant of the other vehicle. Although there are many factors that can cause a trucking accident, such as fatigue, drug use, unsafe speed and inadequate maintenance, the risk associated with these factors increases at night.
The number of vehicle miles traveled at night is substantially less than during daytime hours, but more than half of all traffic fatalities occur after dark according to a study conducted by Injury Prevention magazine. Factors that make driving more dangerous at night include decreased visibility and more intoxicated and sleepy drivers on the roads. Because of the weight and length of semi-trucks, they cannot stop or maneuver as efficiently, so the factors that increase nighttime crash rates also would be expected to contribute to a higher rate of tractor-trailer collision.
A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that despite less traffic after dark, 36 percent of the 12,097 truck accident fatalities during a one year period occurred at night. Driver fatigue and drowsiness are common factors in many trucking collisions. A study published in the journal Sleep found that the highest risk of nighttime accidents is between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Researchers indicate that this is the time of night that coincides with the deepest sleep cycle for most people. Because human brain activity may be prone to shutting down at this time, some cognitive driving functions can be impaired.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has enacted special regulations to mitigate the chance of a collision. Some of the restrictions imposed by the FMCSA to prevent trucking accidents at night include:
- Hours of Service Rules- These rules impose limits on the number of consecutive hours, hours over a number of days, minimum rest periods and other restrictions designed to prevent fatigued and drowsy truck drivers.
- Use of Lighting and Conspicuity Tape- Tractor-trailers are required to have warning flashers, stop lamps, reflex reflectors both intermediate and rear as well as on the front sides, tail lamps and side marker lamps. Trailers must also have conspicuity tape, so they remain visible to other motorist in poor lighting.
When regulations like these are disregarded, truck drivers and trucking companies can be liable for crashes that are caused by violation of these safety regulations. If you or a loved one is injured in a collision with a big-rig, our Atlanta tractor-trailer accident lawyers have the experience to effectively navigate the unique challenge of pursuing a trucking accident claim.
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