Truckers usually drive thousands of miles to transport material. At times, there are drivers that go beyond their daily driving requirements, which causes their bodies to fatigue. This in turn places the truck driver and other drivers in danger. In Texas, it is not uncommon for a truck driver who fell asleep driving to cause a car accident. Therefore, the question is: if you are part of an accident like this, how can you know that the trucker did in fact fall asleep?
The Truck's Path Leading to the Accident
A quick way to see if the trucker who hit you fell asleep is to examine the truck's movement before impact. One way this can be accomplished is by looking for any skid marks on the road. A fully awake truck driver (or any type of driver) will usually do a last second effort to change their truck path if they feel there is an immediate threat, such as a road filled with solid ice, an obstacle in the way, or a crossing pedestrian. However, when a driver's body is fatigued due to an excessive amount of hours driving, the brain's focus and concentration may drop. This may result in the inability for the body to activate its flight-or-flight response (the body's ability to quickly make decisions in dangerous events).
Taking this information into account, an awake driver will try to change their vehicle's path if they perceive that a vehicle is getting close. While altering course, the truck driver would turn sharply and apply the truck's brakes, which would leave a trail of skid marks. During vehicular accident reconstruction, skid marks can be used to determine the path of the vehicle before impact. If there is a lack of skid marks on the area where the accident took place, then the likeliness that the trucker may have been sleeping is very likely.
The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) has a requirement for truck drivers to carry logbooks in their trucks to document their driving hours and to monitor the truck driver's sleep time.
In the event of an accident with a truck driver, it is possible to request for an inspection of the truck driver's logbook in a trial. Any inconsistency or gap within the logbook may be a clear indicator that the truck driver may have been driving drowsy.
Time of Accident
If you think that the truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, take special note of the time that the accident occurred. Documenting the time when of the accident is very helpful when examining the truck driver's condition, and whether or not they were conscious at the time of impact. There is a large different between driving at five in the morning and five in the afternoon, because this affects both road conditions and a driver's alertness. An accident occurring between midnight and five in the morning can be a clear indicator that the truck driver was drowsy and fell asleep while driving.