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Which truck drivers are most likely to fall asleep?

It would be wonderful if drivers in Virginia could know in advance which truck drivers were most likely to fall asleep behind the wheel. After all, there are roughly 6,000 fatal accidents each year that can be linked back to drowsy driving, and commercial drivers play a big part in this.

While it's impossible to spot all drowsy drivers, knowing some of the key factors that make it likely for someone to fall asleep at the wheel can help. These include:

- Drivers who work on abnormal shifts, meaning they may be up at odd hours or not sleep as well. This is also a problem for drivers who are not used to these shifts and may be covering them for the first time.

- Drivers who are using any type of drug or medication that could make them more tired than usual.

- Drivers who simply don't sleep enough at night — perhaps wanting to stay up late to hang out with friends or watch a football game on TV, for example.

- Drivers who have sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, that they have neglected to have treated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, commercial drivers themselves are more likely than other commuters to fall asleep behind the wheel. The CDC notes that these commercial drivers could be operating semi trucks, tow trucks or buses. Drivers should exercise additional caution around these vehicles, especially when other factors — like a late-night shift — are part of the equation.

Those who have been injured by truck drivers who fell asleep while they were driving may be able to seek compensation for medical bills and costs.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel," accessed Nov. 19, 2015

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