The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) continually seeks ways to improve safety in the trucking industry and reduce the risks of preventable hazards such as truck driver fatigue. We see far too many cases of people hurt or killed each year in truck accidents from tired and overworked truckers.
In the Department of Transportation (DOT) brief, “Why We Care about Truck Driver Fatigue,” the agency explains the importance of minimizing driver fatigue and shares some disturbing truck driver fatigue statistics: “Nearly 4,000 people die in large truck crashes each year, and driver fatigue is a leading factor. Our rules must protect against those drivers and trucking companies who are tempted to push the limits and put our families and loved ones at risk.”
The Dangers of Driving While Fatigued
DOT research identifies fatigue as a significant risk for truck drivers. Reasonable work hours and sufficient recovery time are necessary for safe performance.
Some of the effects that drowsy driving can have on a driver include the following.
- Slower reaction times
- Reduced ability to assess situations quickly
- Looking but not seeing
- Falling asleep while driving
An especially dangerous characteristic of fatigue is that it can creep up on truck drivers without them noticing. Tired drivers might not be fully aware of their surroundings and might not notice that they are drifting between lanes. DOT reported that “truck drivers (like most people) often can’t assess their fatigue levels accurately and are therefore unaware that their performance has degraded.”
For a free legal consultation, call (614) 538-1116
When Truck Driver Fatigues Causes an Accident
The FMCSA provides lengthy rules about truck drivers’ hours of service in an effort to provide some fatigue management in the industry. These rules limit the number of consecutive hours drivers can work and regulates the frequency and duration of breaks. When trucker oversteps the time limits and continue driving even when they are tired, they put themselves and everyone on the road at risk.
When a truck driver’s fatigue leads to an accident, they can be cited and penalized, and the company may be subject to civil liabilities. Victims will have just caused to file a suit or claim against the company to seek compensation for one or more of these five common types of injuries victims sustain in serious crashes. Unfortunately, proving the driver was fatigued might by difficult.
National Safety Council President Deborah A. P. Hersman noted, “Until we have a blood test for determining fatigue, all estimates are likely going to underreport fatigue, because the dead don’t speak and the living often plead the Fifth, especially if they are facing criminal charges.” It’s difficult to prove fatigue, but not impossible. If you were in an accident caused by truck driver fatigue, an attorney well-versed in truck accident cases can help you pursue the settlement that you deserve.