According to data published by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), approximately 4,000 people lose their lives as a result of injuries sustained in truck accidents every year. Additional data reveals that many of these accidents were the result of truck driver fatigue. In fact, the USDOT estimates that as many as ten percent of truck drivers who were involved in truck accidents were fatigued when the crash occurred. These statistics are alarming for all drivers, as accidents involving trucks tend to involve multiple vehicles and result in especially horrific injuries.
What is Driver Fatigue?
Fatigue occurs at the point when physical or mental exertion begins to impair reaction time and the ability to make rational decisions, which can have devastating consequences for truck drivers and others on the road. This is in large part due to the larger size of semi-trucks in comparison to standard-sized vehicles. Furthermore, because of their reduced decision making ability and slower reaction time, fatigued drivers are often unaware of an impending collision until it is too late to avert it. As a result, truck crashes caused by fatigue often occur at high speeds, which can lead to deadly injuries.
What Causes Driver Fatigue?
Fatigue has a number of different causes. However, the most common include:
- A poor diet;
- Lack of sleep;
- Sleep-related health problems, such as insomnia or sleep apnea;
- Working long hours with inadequate breaks periods;
- Taking part in sustained and strenuous activity without rest; and
- Taking prescription or over-the-counter medications that cause drowsiness.
Fatigue is always dangerous to drivers, but poses an especially large risk to truck drivers who are required to drive long hours and over long distances.
To help combat truck driver fatigue, the FMCSA requires drivers to comply with specific safety-related regulations aimed at preventing fatigue. For instance, federal law states that truck drivers:
- Can only begin a new shift if at least eight hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last 30 minute rest break;
- Are not permitted to driver after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 days; and
- Cannot drive more than 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty.
Drivers and trucking companies who do not comply with these rules can be held responsible for injuries resulting from their negligence. However, to collect compensation, injured parties must first demonstrate that the truck driver’s fatigue caused the crash. This usually requires the collection of specific evidence, including:
- Police reports;
- The results of a commercial motor vehicle examination;
- The driver’s logbooks;
- Data recorded on in-vehicle technologies; and
- The driver’s medical examination report.
Having access to this documentation can make all the difference to the outcome of a case.
Contact Us Today to Speak With an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
If you were involved in a truck accident and have reason to believe that the driver was asleep at the wheel, please contact the legal team at U.S. Truck Accident Attorneys today by calling 313-438-4357 and we’ll help you schedule a free consultation with a dedicated and compassionate truck accident attorney.