Tractor-Trailer Crashes in Georgia & The Risk of Sleepy Truckers

Our Georgia tractor-trailer accident attorneys recently reported driver fatigue is a leading cause of commercial driving accidents. While the National Sleep Foundation has declared Nov. 12-18 Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, a study published by the foundation this summer reveals it’s the nation’s transportation workers who may be most at risk. 1243926_sleeping.jpg

One-fourth of train operators and pilots admitted that sleepiness affects their performance on the job at least once a week! Even more troubling, 1 in 5 pilots and 1 in 6 truck drivers and train operators say they’ve made a serious error or been involved in a “near miss” because of fatigue.

Transportation workers are also at six times higher risk of being involved in an accident while commuting to and from work! And about half report dissatisfaction with sleep, saying they rarely or never get a good night’s sleep.

“We should all be concerned that pilots and train operators report car crashes due to sleepiness at a rate that is six times greater than that of other workers,” said Dr. Sanjay Patel, of Harvard Medical School.

It’s really no surprise such workers would be at increased risk. Many transportation professionals find themselves on strange shifts, or working through the night. In this study, nearly half of such workers reported problems in getting enough sleep were created by their work schedule.

“The margin of error in these professions is extremely small,” noted David Cloud, CEO of the NSF. “Transportation professionals need to manage sleep to perform at their best.”

About half these transportation workers report taking regular naps — a rate twice that of non-transportation workers and further evidence that the impact of such interruption in sleep cycles should not be disregarded. And, as we reported recently on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog, truckers diagnosed with sleep apnea or other health conditions also face increased risks.

Fatigued transportation workers are more prone to making mistakes and are about three times more likely to have performance problems at work.

Drowsy Driving Prevention – Tips for the Pros

-Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day if at all possible.

-Use bright lights to help manage body clock.

-Use a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as a warm bath.

-Don’t remain in bed longer than necessary. And reserve the bedroom for a place of sleep.

-Create a warm, quiet, dark bedroom environment conducive to sleep.

-Get medical help for excessive snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness or other signs a sleep disorder may be impacting your ability to get proper rest.


Of course, that doesn’t mean the rest of us are immune from the risks, particularly as we head into the busy holiday shopping and travel season. Young drivers under the age of 25 continue to be at particularly high risk — accounting for about half of all drowsy driving crashes. Talk to your friends and family this week about the risks. With early dark, we all need to do our part to stay safe on the roads.


About Michael Sullivan

Michael A. Sullivan is a former federal prosecutor who has more than twenty-five years of experience in sophisticated civil and criminal litigation.

Mr. Sullivan has represented large businesses and individuals in complex cases, many involving fraud and breaches of fiduciary duty. His trial experience over three decades has included white collar criminal cases, civil fraud, business torts, and serious personal injury and death cases. Mr. Sullivan has been selected as a Super Lawyer each year from 2006 to present.

From 1995-98, Mr. Sullivan served under Larry D. Thompson as a federal prosecutor in the Independent Counsel investigation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which included the prosecution of former Secretary of the Interior James Watt. He also has defended businesses and individuals in white collar criminal investigations and prosecutions, including financial fraud and tax investigations.  Mr. Sullivan has also conducted internal investigations, and has advised organizations on compliance issues.

In addition to handling a variety of complex civil cases, Mr. Sullivan represents whistleblowers worldwide in qui tam litigation under the False Claims Act, in the IRS Whistleblower Program, and in the new SEC and CFTC Whistleblower Programs.

Mr. Sullivan has worked with the False Claims Act since the late 1980s and has both defended and prosecuted cases under the False Claims Act.

Since the December 2006 inception of the new IRS Whistleblower Program, Mr. Sullivan has also represented tax whistleblowers in submissions totaling many billions of dollars. He has also worked with the IRS Whistleblower Office staff in presenting programs on best practices in pursuing IRS Whistleblower claims.

In 2009 and again in 2010, Mr. Sullivan was contacted by staff members of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee to discuss how the new SEC and CFTC Whistleblower Programs under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act should operate. He has also met with the SEC and CFTC Chairmen and senior staff to recommend changes to the proposed rules for SEC and CFTC Whistleblower claims.

In 2014, Mr. Sullivan served as lead counsel to a major international corporation and won an eight-figure jury verdict against defendants who had defrauded the company and breached their fiduciary duties to it.

Mr. Sullivan is a graduate of the University of North Carolina and Vanderbilt Law School, where he was Senior Articles Editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review. He clerked for U.S. District Judge Marvin H. Shoob in Atlanta from 1984-86.