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According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), driver fatigue is classified as physical and mental exhaustion that impairs performance. Fatigue most commonly occurs when there is a lack of sleep, long and strenuous work hours, and other factors like an unhealthy lifestyle. Driver fatigue is a common problem in the commercial trucking industry.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that driver fatigue contributes to 40% of all heavy truck crashes. FMCSA also found that 13% of the commercial truck drivers in their Large Truck Crash Causation study were considered fatigued at the time of their crash. Fatigue is a prevalent issue for truck drivers – but what are the causes, and how can it be avoided?
Medication is one of the leading causes of truck driver fatigue. Approximately 17% of commercial truck drivers reported using an over-the-counter drug before their crash.
Unhealthy lifestyles also contribute to fatigue. Examples include skipping meals, long working hours, and sleep deprivation. Other factors that can contribute to a truck driver’s level a fatigue include the time of day, hours awake, and rotating shift schedules. Fatigue can cause slowed reaction times and reflexes, impaired judgement, and increased distractibility, all of which can compound the severity of a commercial vehicle collision.
It is also important to recognize the signs of fatigue to understand when a truck driver might be in danger.
Some signs of fatigue include:
One of the best ways to combat driver fatigue is to take preventative measures. It is recommended that truck drivers take naps to prevent drowsiness. Naps combat fatigue better than caffeinated drinks like coffee. Truck drivers should also take breaks every two hours or so to ensure they are alert for the rest of their journey. Alongside these actions, FMCSA offers a North American Fatigue Management Program that includes education and techniques to reduce driver fatigue.
If you believe that truck driver fatigue was caused your collision, it’s essential to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer on our team may be able to investigate and obtain evidence of the driver’s fatigue leading up to the accident. Contact our firm to speak with a personal injury attorney and receive legal assistance today.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law