Truck accidents are a primary cause of highway fatalities in North Carolina, and many times the truck driver is found at fault after all case evidence is evaluated. It is typically difficult to get a truck driver to admit they were drowsy or tired at the time of an accident, but the truth is that certain evidence can still be used to establish the fact.
One of the primary indicators that a truck driver may be fatigued is the time that an accident occurred and how long they had been on duty. Driver logs are now kept electronically by law, and this evidence can be subpoenaed to court when a truck accident case is being evaluated for fault. The ultimate issue is drowsy driving, which has been compared to intoxicated driving when motor vehicle accidents are being negotiated.
Medical documentation and blood analysis can also reveal some interesting information that can suggest whether or not a driver is fatigued at the time of a truck accident. Drivers who are suspected of being under the influence are commonly tested for alcohol use and other drugs as well, and the level for truck driver impairment is set by North Carolina law at 0.04% BAC for a citation. Any alcohol use at all coupled with certain required medications can indicate cross-impairment drowsiness.
Inconsistent work schedule
Not all truck drivers are on a regular driving schedule, and especially long-haul tractor-trailer drivers. There are specific rules that govern the number of hours and days they may drive, and drivers who are at the end of a long daily driving schedule may not have been taking the necessary time to rest in between driving shifts. Just because they are not behind the wheel does not mean they are getting proper rest.
All courts understand that fatigued driving occurs in a wide variety of situations and that accidents can happen at any time during a driving shift. And even though there may not be any direct evidence of driver fatigue, it can clearly be a central contributor to accident liability when additional documentation is presented in court.