Research: Underpaid, fatigued truckers pose real road dangers

We all know the feelings of drowsiness. They come quietly upon us every night. We begin to blink and yawn and lose interest in the book we’re reading, conversation we’re having or TV show we’re watching. The most natural thing to do is to head to bed and fall asleep. Unfortunately, many people are behind the wheel of a vehicle on the road when the feelings of drowsiness come upon them. The worst choice they make is to keep driving, experts say.

But that is exactly the choice made every day and every night by truck drivers whose livelihood depends on staying on the road. A recent article by an economics professor states that because truckers are underpaid and overworked, they are more likely to be the cause of violent truck accidents, devastating injuries and tragic losses of life.

Dr. Michael Belzer is an economics professor at Wayne State University who has for years studied the impact of economics on road safety. He points out that a U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health survey showed that long-haul truckers work about 50 percent more hours than the average American worker. They also “regularly violate” federal regulations that limit the number of hours truck drivers are allowed to be on the road.

Because they are underpaid, Belzer says, economic forces compel them to drive as much as they can. Those long hours and the often monotonous miles they roll over combine to increase the risks commercial vehicle drivers pose to themselves and those of us who share the roads with them.

Belzer says his study of truck accidents shows that fatigue and aggressive driving behaviors brought on by fatigue combine to make it “significantly more likely that the truck driver is responsible for the crash.”

If you or a loved one has been harmed in a wreck with a commercial vehicle, contact an attorney with a track record of success in fighting for justice and maximum compensation for all damages.