Each year over 750 people die at the mercy of fatigued truck drivers, and more than 200,000 are injured, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It isn’t only the occupants of the passenger vehicle that are killed in driver-fatigue trucking accidents, around 600 truck drivers die each year in these accidents as well. Driver fatigue contributes to 20-40 percent of all trucking accidents in one year, and 82 percent of truck drivers involved in fatal crashes were men.
Truck driver fatigue is an exhausted, sleepy or tired feeling that a driver experiences while operating a commercial vehicle. It usually stems from lack of daily sleep. Driver fatigue is so dangerous because most drivers can’t even tell how serious their exhaustion is.
Symptoms of driver fatigue include:
- Poor concentration
- Sore eyes
- Slow reaction
- Feeling Irritable
- Difficulty staying in your lane
Working conditions may also be a factor contributing to driver fatigue. Some drivers are paid by the mile so they will push to get as many miles in as possible, and some companies place time limits on drivers. The Code of Federal Regulations places laws on Interstate truck drivers working hours in order to combat driver fatigue. Under these laws drivers can drive 11 hours in a work period, but are not allowed to operate their vehicle after 14 hours of being on duty. In between working periods ten consecutive hours of rest are needed for the driver to resume work.
Truck drivers are required to record their driving hours in a log book, however, many drivers falsify their hours so they can travel more without getting in trouble. Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration drafted plans that would require electronic on board recorders in all trucks in order to prevent drivers from lying about their hours. These “black boxes,” will monitor the hours driven, and the hours the truck is resting.
The longer a driver is working the more likely he or she is to be involved in an accident due to fatigue. For instance, for one hour of driving there were 102 fatigue related accidents out of 10,412 and for every 13 hours of driving there were 8 fatigue related accidents out of 32.
Trucking accident cases are very complex and present many issues that are absent from regular car accident cases. It is always a good idea to retain a truck-accident lawyer to review your case and fight for your rights.