A collision between your 3,000-pound car and an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer is a formula for tragedy. The big rig operator may drive away from the accident scene with little damage after destroying your car. You and your loved ones risk major injuries and even death.

The likelihood of such a crash rises when the person behind the wheel of the big rig is sleepy. Sharing the road with truck drivers who fall asleep is more common than you want to know.

Numbers behind the accidents

A study ranked “drowsy driving” as the No. 3 reason for truck collisions, while “falling asleep” placed No. 10. Two other conditions related to fatigued truckers, “blank stare” (No. 2) and “late response” (No. 5), also made the Top 10.

The study covered 100 billion miles of driving information. It said most collisions happen between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., when you would expect tired truckers to be on the road. Those same drivers, it found, were less likely to have accidents during the afternoon hours.

Reasons behind the accidents

While truckers work long hours, they also have a responsibility to be alert behind the wheel. Federal and state laws dictate mandatory rest breaks and how many hours they can drive.

Yet, truckers are under considerable pressure to deliver their goods on time. They may ignore laws and common sense to meet their deadlines and please their employers. Otherwise, they may feel that their jobs are on the line.

The diminished skills of a tired trucker are much like those of someone driving drunk. Fatigue-related accidents would not happen if they get enough rest.

Protecting yourself from accidents

You can practice safe driving around big rigs, but you do only so much to ensure your safety. A tired trucker is a threat to you and your family.

Your safety is more important than a truck driver delivery schedule. Awareness while driving among big rigs is your leading defense.