Thousands of semi trucks pass through Colorado highways carrying goods across the country. The focus of the trucking industry is based on delivering goods as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this can create an incentive for drivers to spend more time behind the wheel than may be safe. Drowsy truck drivers have an increased risk of trucking accidents in Denver.
If you have questions about who is responsible after an accident with a semi or tractor trailer in Colorado, talk to an experienced Denver accident lawyer for advice.
Trucking Traffic Through Colorado
The I-70 runs 2,153 miles connecting ten states from Utah to Baltimore, passing right through Colorado and Denver. According to the Federal Highway Administration, the average trucking speed on I-70 in 2005 was 54 mph. However, the primary area for slower traffic along the more than 2,000 miles is right around Denver. This involves Denver traffic as well as the transition to passing through the Rocky Mountains, which may also require time to chain up and deal with winter weather.
Drowsy Truck Driver
Truck driver fatigue is a serious problem for drivers in Colorado and across the country. A truck driver falling asleep at the wheel is not just dangerous for commercial drivers but also for anyone else on the road, including:
- Other drivers
- Motorcycle riders
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “in 2017, 91,000 police-reported crashes involved drowsy drivers. These crashes led to an estimated 50,000 people injured and nearly 800 deaths.”
The NHTSA offers a number of “Tips to Drive Alert.” However, these are not tricks to stay awake longer after you are already tired. The tips tell drivers to “get a good night's sleep,” get enough sleep on a daily basis, and avoid drinking alcohol before driving.
Drive Longer with Coffee or Stimulants
Many people think drinking coffee or energy drinks will help them stay awake. But drinking coffee or caffeine may not be enough to provide any meaningful relief. Coffee may help you feel more alert but any effects are short-lived. Caffeine pills have other negative effects, including making the driver feel jittery or anxious.
Some truck drivers use methamphetamines to help them drive longer without the need for rest. One study found methamphetamine use increased violent attitude and aggressive driving. Drivers suffered from impaired judgment and increased risk-taking. The withdrawal effects can make fatigue even worse.
Fault in a Drowsy Trucking Accident
Fault in any car accident is generally based on negligence. If a driver is feeling tired or has been nodding off and does not pull over or stop to get rest, they may be putting others at risk of injury. The driver at fault for an accident may be liable to others for damages. In a semi truck accident, the trucking company may also be liable for damages.
Employers are generally liable for the negligence of their employees. If a truck driver is an employee, you may be able to seek compensation from the driver and the tricking company. However, some truck drivers are considered independent contractors. Although, some companies call an employee an independent contractor, just to shield them from liability.
Whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor is not just based on what the employer says, so make sure you talk to your accident injury lawyer about how to recover the maximum damages after a Colorado car accident. Contact us today at 303-642-8888 for a free consultation.