Semi-trucks are an integral part of our society. They move goods across the country, allowing us access to almost any product we could ever want. However, though these big rigs are a critical piece of the economic puzzle, they can also be extremely dangerous, particularly when operated by individuals who are distracted or otherwise negligent. In fact, Massachusetts’ residents may be startled to know just how prevalent truck driver fatigue is and just how deadly it can be.

According to Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, more than 5,000 individuals are killed each year in truck accidents, and another 150,000 are hurt. To make matters worse, many of these deaths and injuries are preventable. Statistics show that more than 750 individuals are killed and an additional 20,000 are injured as a result of truck driver fatigue. These truckers, who are often subjected to strict deadlines and compensation systems that encourage them to work long hours, can help protect innocent motorists by being better rested.

Unfortunately, though, changes in behavior often require changes in the law. Now, truckers can drive up to 16 hours behind the wheel within a 24-hour period. This spells trouble for other motorists. While proposals are in the works to limit the number of hours capable of being driven by truckers, the fact of the matter is that it could be a long time before any such changes are enacted.

In the meantime, those who suffer serious injuries caused by a truck accident, or those who lose a loved one in such a wreck, should consider taking their own legal action. By filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, victims can not only recover much needed compensation, but they can send the message that truck driver fatigue is wholly unacceptable and, unless changes are made, truckers and their employers will continue to pay the financial cost. Though winning such a lawsuit may not cease the emotional pain, it might bring some comfort and change so that no one else has to go through a similar situation.

Source: Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, “Truck Driver Fatigue,” accessed on Nov. 1, 2014