Brad Pistotnik Law
Abogado El Toro

Truck Driver Fatigue Causes Truck Accidents

Common Causes | Truck Driver Fatigue

Driver fatigue is a dangerous condition that can result in devastating accidents. Fatigue can be caused by an overtired driver or simply the hypnotic effect of night driving. The early hours of the morning and middle of the afternoon are also peak times for accidents caused by fatigue.

With miles and miles of highway stretching out before them, the longer truckers can drive the greater the potential revenue for truck companies. The average trucker drives 125,000 miles a year, and that’s on the low end of an average. In 2003, large trucks (also known as big rigs, tractor trailers, semis, and 18 wheelers) hauled over nine billion tons with revenues totaling $610 billion. Trucking revenues are expected to nearly double by 2015. With some truck companies offering a driver bonus for extra stops and financial incentives of this size, it is easy to see how profit can encourage truckers to drive further for longer hours, with shorter breaks.

However, profit is not the only factor influencing driver fatigue. A truck driver may ‘push through’ to avoid rush hour traffic snarls, try to make up for time lost due to bad weather, or be anxious to get home for the weekend.

Whatever the reason, with the continuously increasing number of trucks on our roads, truck driver fatigue is a public safety issue. When driving excessive weekly and daily work hours, commercial drivers significantly increase the risk of a truck accident or crash that may result in serious injuries or death.

Truck Driver fatigue and drowsiness are conditions that result in reckless behavior such as failure to keep in the proper lane and running off the road. Tired truckers are of such concern that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that drivers and carriers maintain logs, expense receipts, and other paperwork that track their compliance with current Hours of Service regulations. While these laws have helped reduce the number of accidents, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board still blames driver fatigue as a probable factor in 20-40% of truck crashes.

The National Transportation Safety Board concluded in one study that 52% of 107 single-vehicle accidents involving heavy trucks were fatigue related. In 18% of these cases the driver had fallen asleep. The NTSB also reported that driver fatigue was a significant factor in 20% of commercial road transport crashes. In 2008, Kansas Department of Transportation listed ‘fell asleep’ as a contributing cause of accident 672 times.

After another study by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the board concluded that the most important measures in predicting a fatigue-related accident in are the duration of the last sleep period, the total hours of sleep obtained during the 24 hours prior to the accident, and split sleep patterns.

Because of these findings, the NTSB requested that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revise the hours-of-service regulations so drivers could get eight hours of continuous sleep, and to discontinue the sleeper berth exemption that allows drivers to split their minimum daily rest requirement into two separate periods.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration limits the number of hours a commercial motor vehicle driver may operate a truck. A driver or trucking company that exceeds these regulations, are not only breaking the law, but putting drivers at risk for falling asleep or becoming drowsy during their operation of a truck. These practices put our safety and lives at risk every day.

Because there may be several factors influencing a driver’s hours of service, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that drivers and carriers maintain logs, expense receipts, and other paperwork that track their compliance with current Hours of Service regulations. Unfortunately, lack of enforcement has created an attitude among many drivers and carriers that views violations as “the cost of doing business.”

In all large truck cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of a large truck accident, call the Truck Accident Lawyers Group, Inc. now at (877) 736-4222 or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don’t delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.