How Does Truck Driver Fatigue Affect Truck Accidents?
Posted on Friday, October 1st, 2021 at 5:20 pm
Driving while tired is risky behavior. It’s just as dangerous as driving drunk. That’s because it causes similar impairments, such as poor motor skills, decreased coordination, and slower reaction time. Motorists can’t function correctly when they feel fatigued, increasing the risk of an accident. In 2019, 697 people died in collisions involving drowsy drivers.
An accident between two passenger cars can be destructive and lead to severe injuries. However, if the crash involves a commercial truck, the aftermath can be catastrophic. Large trucks, such as tractor-trailers, can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. If the truck driver feels fatigued, they will likely have a harder time operating their vehicle safely.
Why Truck Drivers Experience Fatigue
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), hours of service regulations are in place to prevent fatigued driving. They include rules regarding when truck drivers should take breaks, how many hours they must spend off duty before starting a new driving shift, and the maximum number of hours they can be on the road at a time.
These regulations are an excellent idea in theory. Unfortunately, the FMCSA can’t regulate a driver’s sleep schedule or activities outside of work. If someone has insomnia, another job, a family, or other responsibilities, they might not get the rest they need to function properly while driving.
Sometimes, trucking companies will force their employees to drive beyond the maximum limits. They want them to stay on schedule, so they tell their drivers to stay on the road for as long as possible to make their deliveries.
Truck drivers might also decide to violate the hours of service regulations themselves. Many don’t receive an hourly wage or yearly salary. They get paid for every mile they drive. This could encourage them to travel further distances to make more money. If they encounter traffic, accidents, or poor weather conditions, they might try to compensate for the lost time by extending their shift by several hours. All of that driving could lead to fatigue.
Some truckers will also turn to drugs to stay awake. Whether it’s an illicit or prescription drug, it can lead to adverse side effects. The same drug a truck driver takes to give them energy can also cause fatigue. Additionally, over-the-counter medicines to treat allergies or the common cold often cause drowsiness.
Why Is Fatigued Driving Dangerous?
Fatigue impairs a person’s normal faculties. That means it can disrupt how their brain registers potential dangerous situations and prevent them from reacting appropriately.
Fatigue typically leads to various symptoms, such as:
- Poor judgment
- Diminished motor skills
- Loss of muscle control
- Blurry vision
- Poor decision-making skills
- Slowed reaction time
- Inability to understand traffic signs
- Loss of consciousness
- Impaired depth perception
- Extended periods of inattention
- Inability to notice hazards
- Becoming distracted easily
- Reduced coordination
A truck driver operating a commercial truck needs to be at the top of their game to maneuver through traffic, bad weather, and hazardous conditions. However, if they feel tired, they could fall asleep at the wheel and collide with other vehicles.
What to Do If You’re Involved in a Truck Accident
Unlike drunk driving and other contributing factors, proving driver fatigue caused an accident is a challenge. If someone is under the influence, you can use the chemical test result to show they had alcohol in their system. There isn’t much physical evidence to hold the truck driver liable if they were tired.
That means it’s critical to hire a lawyer immediately after the crash. An experienced legal team can perform a thorough investigation and collect the available evidence to prove the trucker’s actions caused the collision.
One of the most valuable types of evidence in a case like this is the truck driver’s record of duty status log. Truckers must complete one for every twenty-four-hour period. It shows information, such as the number of hours they drove during their shift and how many breaks they took. If they violated the hours of service regulations, it could indicate they felt fatigued, which could have resulted in the crash.
Be sure to go to the hospital after leaving the accident scene. Medical records are another vital piece of evidence used in truck accident cases. You need proof that your injury happened in the accident. If you don’t attend your recommended doctor’s appointments, there won’t be any documentation of the injury you suffered and the necessary treatment to heal your injuries.
If you suffered injuries in an accident with a fatigued truck driver, do not hesitate to reach out to Caffee Law for assistance. We have years of experience representing accident victims like you and securing the maximum compensation available. You deserve the opportunity to hold the negligent truck driver accountable for the harm they caused.
Call Caffee Law at (206) 312-0954 right now for your free consultation.