Does Truck Driver Fatigue Contribute to Commercial Truck Accidents?

Attorney Grant Travis | Travis Law Firm | Personal Injury Attorney, DUI Defense Attorney, Criminal Defense Attorney | Serving Erie, Crawford, Warren & all of Northwestern PA | Call the Travis Law Firm at 814-277-2222 today!

Does sharing the road with large trucks make you nervous?  Does truck driver fatigue and accidents worry you? Do you attempt to avoid driving beside or near commercial vehicles whenever possible? If so, you are wise. Statistics from large truck accidents show that 83 percent of the fatalities in large truck accidents are occupants of other vehicles or non-occupants, such as pedestrians and bicyclists.

Large trucks can be “deadly weapons” on our roads when truck drivers are fatigued or drowsy. Fatigued truck drivers who cause truck accidents should be held liable for the damages and losses arising from their decision to drive when they are fatigued.

If a semi-truck accident or other commercial truck accident injures you, call our office now. Let’s work together to hold the party responsible for the crash liable for your injuries.

Federal Laws and Regulations for Truck Drivers

The FMCSA has regulations and laws governing the number of hours a truck driver may drive without sleep or rest. The hours of service (HOS) are intended to ensure drivers receive enough rest to avoid fatigue. For example, the HOS require truck drivers have 10 consecutive hours off duty before they drive a shift up to 11 hours. In addition to restricting driving time in one day, the HOS regulations also contain requirements for taking breaks and limits for the number of driving hours per week.

Sadly, some truck drivers ignore the HOS regulations. If a driver exceeds the number of driving hours, the driver could become fatigued and cause a crash. Proving driver fatigue because of HOS violations involves obtaining copies of the driver’s log books, the trucking company’s records, and the data from the truck’s black box and on-board recording devices. In addition, we may interview witnesses and follow other lines of investigation to prove a driver exceeded the limits for safe driving hours.

Why Is Truck Driver Fatigue Dangerous?

The FMCSA published a study of why commercial truck crashes occur. Of the 12,000 commercial truck crashes analyzed as part of the study, almost three-fourths of the crashes involved the truck colliding with another vehicle. Fatigued and overworked truck drivers are factors in many truck accidents.

Fatigue and drowsiness can be a factor in all of the top four reasons for driver-related truck accidents. The four reasons for driver-related truck accidents were:

  • Non-performance (Fatigue could cause a driver to fall asleep while driving.)
  • Recognition (Fatigue can cause distracted driving.)
  • Decision (Fatigue can impair the driver’s decision-making skills.)
  • Performance (Fatigue can also cause the driver’s performance to suffer.)

When anyone is tired, they can make poor decisions. Their reaction times can be impaired, and they may not be able to focus. The same is true when a driver is behind the wheel of a vehicle. When a truck driver is fatigued, he is risking causing an accident with an 80,000-pound vehicle.

What Causes Truck Driver Fatigue?

Some of the most common causes of truck driver fatigue are:

  • Driving Too Many Hours — As discussed above, a truck driver who exceeds the safe limits of the HOS regulations can become Many times, the employer pressures a truck driver to drive extra hours to deliver a load early. The driver may also exceed the hours to make more money.
  • Poor Planning — A truck driver cannot simply stop anywhere to rest. A semi-truck takes up a lot of room. Therefore, truck drivers must plan routes that provide rest areas or places to park so that drivers can sleep and rest.
  • Sleep Apnea — Untreated sleep apnea causes fatigue. In some cases, a driver may have sleep apnea, but does not know he suffers from the condition.
  • Prescription and OTC Medications — Some medications have drowsiness as a side effect. Truck drivers must be incredibly careful when taking medication to ensure they are not using the medication while driving that can make them drowsy.
  • Impaired Driving — Using alcohol and illegal drugs while driving can be a factor in fatigued driving.

Call an Erie Truck Accident Attorney for Help

Contact The Travis Law Firm at (800) 401-2066 to request a free legal consultation with our Erie truck accident attorney. You may be entitled to recover substantial compensation from the trucking company, truck driver, and other parties by filing a truck accident claim.