According to The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck driver fatigue is one of the leading contributing factors of commercial trucking crashes. Despite the administration’s best efforts to implement rules and regulations to lower the accident rate by discouraging systems and schedules that lead to truck driver fatigue, there has been a 20% increase in the number of commercial truck accidents over the past ten years. Due to their massive size, even minor tired driver accidents involving semi-trucks can be fatal, especially for other drivers on the road, pedestrians, and bikers. Let’s take a more in-depth look into what driver fatigue consists of, what causes it, and what you can do if you or someone you know has been in a tired driver accident.
What is Driver Fatigue?
Driver fatigue is prolonged driving combined with mental and physical exhaustion. Keep in mind that “prolonged” is a relative term in this instance. Any distance is too far if a driver is already fatigued or is running on just a few hours of sleep before they got behind the wheel. The National Transportation Safety Board estimates that 30-40% of all semi-truck accidents involve driver fatigue. To figure out why these tired driver accidents happen, let’s explore some circumstances that lead to accidents in which a driver could be falling asleep.
What Causes Driver Fatigue?
Truck drivers can become fatigued by driving too many hours straight, taking short rest periods during long hauls, and not getting enough sleep. Other related issues contribute to tired driver accidents such as sleep apnea, drug use, or sleeping in a sleeper berth. All of these factors affect a driver’s ability to concentrate on the road, increase reaction time, and impact sound decision-making capabilities.
What Regulations Are in Place?
There are federal regulations that commercial truck drivers must adhere to. Truckers can drive 11 hours each day only after ten consecutive hours off duty. They may not drive more than 14 straight hours. Truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving in a week may only start driving again after a 34 hour rest period, which has to include at least two nights, including the period from 1-5 a.m. Truck drivers have to take at least one 30-minute break during the first eight hours of their shifts. While all of these laws have everyone on the road’s safety in mind, trucking companies often resist these laws. Since some independent truckers are paid by the mile, they claim that the statutes are reducing the amount of money they can make.
Contact Experienced Accident Attorneys
Truck drivers are under an enormous amount of pressure to deliver their loads. Demanding deadlines and schedules, regulations that aren’t enforced, and truckers that are not able to recognize when they are fatigued can result in tired driver accidents.
As a trusted law firm in California, The Barnes Firm understands the severity of truck driver fatigue. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident with a driver who was falling asleep, contact us today for legal counsel.