Tired Truck Drivers Put Motorists at Risk

All drivers get a little sleepy behind the wheel sometimes, but this is incredibly dangerous. Fatigued driving often leads to significant accidents, and the problem is enhanced tenfold when it comes to commercial truck drivers. State and federal regulators place strict requirements on how many hours truck drivers can operate during each day and each work week. They do this to prevent truck driver fatigue.

Why Governments Limit Driver Hours of Operation

The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) released by the FMCSA indicates that 13% of commercial motor vehicle drivers “were considered to be fatigued at the time of their crash.” 

The federal government, as well as every state government, places restrictions on truck drivers. The federal government controls any truck driver’s hours of service if they operate from one state to the other, which is the majority of commercial truck drivers. States are allowed to regulate truck drivers that only operate within the state borders.

In general, property-carrying drivers are limited to a 14-hour limit each day, eleven of which may be spent driving. However, this can only happen after having 10 consecutive hours off duty. Drivers are required to have one 30-minute break if they have driven for a period of eight cumulative hours.

Overall, drivers are limited to 60 to 70 hours depending on whether or not we are discussing a seven- or eight-day work week. Drivers can restart a seven- or eight-day work week if they take 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

Truck driver fatigue is a major problem that regulators seek to solve by implementing hours of service limits. However, there are times, particularly during national emergencies, when these hours of service requirements are lifted.

dangers of fatigued truck driving

How is Fatigued Truck Driving Dangerous?

Truck drivers who operate fatigued will not be able to handle the vehicle as safely as an alert driver. Fatigued drivers will have slower reaction times, and they may not even notice hazards around them. Unfortunately, fatigue drivers can also fall asleep at the wheel, which can lead to devastating collisions on the roadway.

Commercial trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when they have cargo, so any collision between these larger trucks and smaller passenger vehicles will have an outsized effect on those inside the passenger vehicle.

Common Causes of Fatigued Driving

Truck driver fatigue occurs in a variety of ways, including:

  • Improper sleep schedules
  • Imbalanced diet
  • Strenuous non-work activities or hobbies
  • Alcohol use
  • Prescription or over-the-counter medication use
  • Not using rest breaks properly
  • Overuse of caffeine or stimulants

It can be difficult to determine liability after a collision caused by truck driver fatigue. There will typically need to be an extensive investigation into the incident to determine what happened. Working with a Santa Ana truck accident attorney can help injury victims find hours of service violations or evidence that the driver knowingly operated the vehicle while fatigued.

Individuals harmed due to the careless or negligent actions of a truck driver or trucking company should be able to recover a range of compensation types, including payment for medical bills, pain and suffering damages, lost wages, property damage expenses, and more. Getting legal representation from a personal injury lawyer in Santa Ana can help you secure the financial compensation you deserve.