Drowsy Truck Drivers: Liable If They Cause An Accident?

Truck accidents have always been a problem in the United States, especially in New York State. The state is responsible for more than 50,000 truck accidents every year, with that number increasing for the past five or six years. Despite stricter regulations and much deliberation, there has been no policy breakthrough that decreases the number of truck accidents in the area.

If a truck driver has been in an accident that is deemed to be related to their drowsy state of mind, there are a few ways the case could go. In many situations, the truck company is faced with the brunt of the consequences. If the company is deemed to have put their truck driver on a schedule that allowed for very limited rest, it is their negligence that is most important to a court case. However, as a New York truck accident lawyer will confirm, if alcohol, drugs, or other negligence from the driver is involved, the consequences are far more serious.

History of Truck Accidents and New York

Lawmakers have spent decades trying to solve their truck accident problem. For example, New York lawmakers created a task force to target drowsy driving issues in 1994. The submitted report indicated that new initiatives were needed to warn drivers about the risks of driving on little sleep. In addition, companies were warned about the consequences of placing their drivers on schedules that do not let them sleep for more than 3-4 hours a day.
In 2013, lawmakers created a work hour structure for truck drivers that was meant to drastically reduce accidents related to drowsy driving. Truck drivers are now permitted to work 70 hours or less per week, and must take a 30-minute break during every eight hours of their shift.

The basis for this law is simple. Truck drivers who are drowsy pose an even greater threat than regular drivers who are not paying attention. Being at the wheel of an 18-foot road monster is a serious responsibility, and even the slightest accident involving a truck can cause serious damage.

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The most serious consequence that a drowsy driver could face is jail time. A driver being threatened with jail time would only occur if the resulting accident ended in a death or permanent disability to the victim. In addition, there would have to be negligence on the part of the driver that is proven in court. This behavior may be related to drowsiness from a lack of sleep, distraction due to using a cell phone on the road, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or reckless driving.

If the driver is proven to be neglectful, they face serious jail time if their accident resulted in a fatality. If the only damage was injury, the consequences are likely to be financial. Victims of truck accidents know the laws of New York, and know that they can get a favorable verdict. A truck accident victim can sue the driver for medical expenses, damage to their property, lost earnings while they were unable to work due to the accident, and further compensation for emotional suffering.

Truck drivers need to be careful when getting on the road. With drowsy driving receiving so much attention from law makers, cases involving negligent drivers come with severe consequences. If a truck driver happens to be involved in an accident due to drowsiness or inattentiveness, it is best for them to speak with a truck accident attorney.


LaGeris Underwood Bell, freelance writer, is very much concerned with roadway safety. Being sleepy and behind the wheel in “the city that never sleeps” can happen to anyone; but truck drivers are at the greatest risk. If this situation causes a collision, a New York truck accident lawyer would be able to assist in navigating the road to resolution.

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