Truck Accidents: The Dangers of Driver Fatigue
Car accidents involving commercial trucks tend to be some of the most damaging vehicle crashes. Truck accidents frequently result in catastrophic injuries (or fatalities) and steep financial losses. While trucking companies rarely admit responsibility for an accident, truck drivers are often to blame.
A leading cause of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Commercial truck drivers are often pushed to drive beyond safe limits. The dangers of driver fatigue increase the likelihood of a truck accident, and lead to unnecessary losses. Truck accident lawyer Hardin R. Ramey works with accident victims in Dallas, TX, and surrounding areas to hold liable parties accountable for the damages caused by driver fatigue.
What Causes Driver Fatigue?
Any driver has the potential to drive while fatigued, or overly tired. However, truck drivers are especially likely to struggle with fatigue, and that is because their job involves many factors that can contribute to drowsiness. The most obvious cause of driver fatigue is a lack of sleep, but other risk factors include:
- Poor quality of sleep (sleeping in short shifts, rather than getting a solid stretch of sleep)
- Driving late at night
- Driving long, monotonous routes with little change in scenery
- Driving for extended hours of time
- Rotating shift schedules (i.e. working extended hours during the day, and then switching to an overnight schedule)
Effects of Driver Fatigue
One of the greatest dangers of driver fatigue is that few people realize just how great an effect fatigue has on a person’s physical and cognitive functions. Most people shrug off the feeling of being tired and figure they will rest after they reach their destination. Fatigue increases the risk of an accident by affecting drivers in ways that are very similar to drugs and alcohol. Common effects of fatigue include:
- Impaired judgement
- Slowed reaction times
- Slowed reflexes
- Impaired balance
- Impaired memory
- Increased distractibility
Regulations to Prevent Driver Fatigue
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recognizes the dangers of driver fatigue, so they have implemented hours of service regulations to limit the amount of time a commercial truck driver spends behind the wheel, and decrease the risk of truck accidents caused by driver fatigue. In summary, commercial truck drivers:
- Can drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty
- Cannot exceed 70 hours in an average work week
- May not drive for 34 consecutive hours after reaching weekly hour limit
- Must take a 30 minute break within the first eight hours of their shift
What to Do if You Suspect a Truck Accident Was Caused by Driver Fatigue
Despite hours of service regulations, many truckers are pushed to work beyond the legal limits. Trucking companies frequently encourage drivers to make as many deliveries as possible, as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, ignoring hours of service regulations can lead to dangerous driving practices and damaging truck accidents.
Drivers injured in a truck accident that they believe was caused by driver fatigue should report their suspicions to police officers who respond to the crash. They should also hire a truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Ramey and his team work with experts in the Dallas area to recreate the events of a truck accident and gather evidence to prove that driver fatigue contributed to the crash.
If you have been injured in a commercial truck accident, attorney Hardin R. Ramey can help you hold liable parties accountable, and pursue the financial compensation you are due for accident damages. To discuss the details of your crash, contact our law firm online, or call our Dallas practice at (972) 437-5577 to schedule a consultation.