Truck driver fatigue is a leading cause of preventable accidents that cause thousands of car accident injuries and fatalities each year. Commercial drivers are considered to be at a higher risk for fatigued driving because of their long hours on the road without many breaks. Due to this increased danger, it is critical to know the top signs of truck driver fatigue.
The Warning Signs
Driver fatigue is particularly concerning for truck drivers, but it is equally crucial for all drivers to know the possible warning signs:
- Repeated yawning or head bobbing.
- The inability to keep one’s eyes open.
- Drifting onto the shoulder of the road or into an adjacent traffic lane.
- Other abnormal driving behavior, such as ignoring traffic signs, tailgating other vehicles or braking abruptly.
- Difficulty focusing or paying attention to the task of driving.
- Feelings of restlessness, irritability, or impatience.
- The inability to remember the last few miles of travel.
Causes of Truck Driver Fatigue
A lack of adequate and quality sleep is the most common reason for truck driver fatigue. Truck drivers work long hours, and although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established hours of service regulations, they are still ignored. The FMCSA’s rules require truck drivers to limit their time on-duty to 11 hours after having 10 hours off and cannot exceed 14 consecutive hours of driving in one day. Mandatory breaks must also be taken after a certain number of hours on the road. Fatigued driving accidents often happen when drivers ignore or violate these regulations.
Since driver fatigue can keep truckers from meeting deadlines, some resort to stimulants to stay awake. However, driving while under the influence can impair cognitive functioning and judgment, as well as slow reaction time. Additionally, driving after being awake for 18 hours straight is said to be the equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.05. After being awake for 24 hours straight, it is similar to driving with a BAC of 0.10.
What To Do If You Suspect Your Truck Accident is Caused by Fatigue
Truck accidents can be catastrophic, and even more so if the trucker is driving while drowsy. These collisions often involve high speeds and the truck driver drifting into oncoming traffic lanes. If you believe a truck accident you were injured in was caused by truck driver fatigue, take the following steps to protect your rights.
- Call 911 and remain at the scene.
- Do not admit fault.
- Speak to any eyewitnesses and ask for their contact information.
- Take photos of the scene, damage, the surrounding area, and of your injuries.
- Get the driver’s information and truck number.
- Seek medical attention.
- Obtain copies of the police report and medical records.
- Speak to a truck accident lawyer for legal advice and assist you with your claim against the truck driver’s insurance company.
An experienced truck accident lawyer will help you with every aspect of your claim, including investigating the accident and finding evidence to support that the truck driver was fatigued.