4 Common Reasons Behind Truck Driver Fatigue

Posted By Terry D. Jackson, P.C. || 23-Sep-2016

Research has shown that driving tired can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Like alcohol, being fatigued can slow reaction time, reduce awareness, impair decision-making, and increase risks of wrecks. According to NHTSA’s crash causation study, tired drivers involved in crashes are twice as likely to commit driving errors as drivers who are not fatigued.

Drowsy driving is dangerous for everyone, but for drivers of large trucks and commercial vehicles, the dangers increase. Commercial trucks are massive machines that can weigh up to 40 tons, and because of their size and weight, they’re often slow to stop and tough to maneuver. With a tired driver behind the wheel, the risk of crashes significantly rises. The potential for catastrophic injuries and wrongful death also increase.

Common factors behind truck driver fatigue include:

  • Unusual Hours – The trucking industry operates at all hours of day and night. Unfortunately, unusual hours can fatigue drivers and impact their ability to drive safely. According to researchers, most fatigue-related accidents occur between 12 am and 6 am.
  • Shift Work – Shift work can have a negative effect on sleep and performance, which can make even the most careful drivers more prone to error. Rotating shifts are common in the trucking industry and they often prevent drivers from getting adequate rest.
  • Drug/Alcohol Impairment – Drivers who take medications or drugs or drink alcohol can become drowsy, even if they’re not necessarily over the “legal limit” that applies to most drivers. Drug and alcohol use while driving is never a safe decision.
  • Sleep Disorders – Untreated sleep disorders can increase the risk of accidents. In the trucking industry, regulators are particularly concerned with sleep apnea, which often goes undiagnosed. In fact, the FMCSA is looking to tighten sleep apnea regulatory requirements.

Because fatigued truck drivers present substantial dangers on our roads and highways, safety regulators go to great lengths to prevent tired truckers from getting on the road. This includes strict enforcement of hours-of-service regulations that limit the amount of time drivers can be behind the wheel and mandate rest breaks.

Ultimately, truckers and trucking companies have a responsibility to ensure they follow regulations and keep the public free from preventable harm. When they fail to do so, they can be held liable for damages victims suffer.

If you have questions about your rights following a truck collision or any other traffic accident, our personal injury lawyers at Terry D. Jackson, P.C. are here to help. Contact us for a FREE consultation.

Blog Home