Understanding Truck Driver Fatigue
Commercial truck drivers are required to travel long distances in order to fulfill strict delivery deadlines, which means they are on the road for long stretches of time. Unfortunately, truckers commonly drive fatigued to maximize their profits, which increases their risk of causing a truck accident.
Common effects of trucker fatigue include:
- Possibility of falling asleep behind the wheel
- Reduction in reaction time in the event of unexpected road situations
- Impairs decision-making skills and judgment
- Loss of attention and focus on the road and driving the truck
To prevent drowsy driving within the trucking industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) set forth regulations associated with the amount of time commercial drivers can be on the road before taking a mandatory break – known as the “Hours of Service” (HOS) rules. The HOS rules are designed to prevent and reduce the amount of motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities by trucking companies who encourage their drivers to do whatever it takes to meet deadlines.
The following are details of the HOS regulations:
- Commercial truckers are allowed to work up to 14 hours a day, but can only drive 11 hours out of the 14-hour day.
- Commercial truckers can drive up to 11 hours after taking a break for 10 consecutive hours.
- Commercial truckers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 days.
In the event of a truck accident, the victim’s attorney can determine whether fatigue was a contributing factor in the collision by investigating whether any of the HOS rules were violated. The lawyer can also check driver logs, dispatch logs, and trip receipts to determine whether the trucker had taken the mandatory breaks prior to the accident.