Truck driver fatigue is a serious issue for freight operators in California. When a trucker is drowsy, they could cause a truck accident for which the freight operator may be held partially responsible for. This is due to a legal doctrine known as “respondeat superior.”
What is respondeat superior?
Respondeat superior is a legal doctrine in which an employer is held liable for the negligence of an employee. However, the wrongful acts must have been undergone within the normal scope of employment. Respondeat superior applies when a worker performs acts in the course of their job duty that are so common that they are characteristic of the employment. Respondeat superior also applies when an employee’s recreational activities on the employer’s premises outside of work hours are expressly or implicitly endorsed by the employer and the employer benefits from the pursuits. Respondeat superior does not apply to independent contractors. This is important, as some truckers are classified as independent contractors rather than employees of the freight operator.
How can truckers avoid drowsy driving?
Drowsy driving is a common issue among truckers who often spend long hours on the road. If a drowsy trucker causes a motor vehicle accident it is possible that the freight operator could be named as a defendant in a subsequent lawsuit. Therefore, it is good for freight operators to know some techniques to avoid drowsy driving that they can educate their truckers on.
Truckers should make sure to rest thoroughly before driving and, if possible, do not drive between midnight and 6:00 a.m. or in the late afternoon. This is because our bodies are naturally drowsy during those time periods. Truckers should eat healthy foods at regular mealtimes. Skipping a meal can cause fatigue and it can interfere with sleep. Truckers should also be aware of the signals their body sends them to let them know they are fatigued, including yawning, heavy eyes and blurred vision. Truckers who are drowsy should be encouraged to pull over to a safe place and take a nap.
With the right education, truckers can avoid drowsy driving
As this shows, there are steps truckers can take to avoid drowsy driving. Education can be key for those who work in the transportation industry. This is especially important for freight operators who want to ensure their drivers do not cause a motor vehicle accident for which they will be held partially responsible for.