Driver Fatigue: A Serious Problem in the Trucking Industry

There are many factors that can increase the risk of truck accidents—and one of the most prominent also happens to be one of the most preventable: driver fatigue.

Eighteen percent of truck accidents are caused by driver fatigue. That’s nearly one-in-five of all semi-truck and tractor-trailer crashes. Studies have shown that loss of sleep and exhaustion are serious impairments to safe driving; in some cases, losing enough sleep can be the equivalent to driving drunk. A driver may misjudge a length of distance on the road, overreact or underreact to a threat, or even fall asleep behind the wheel. Accidents can result, and people can die. There is no excuse for this.

Federal laws—what are known as the “hours of service rules”—exist in order to ensure that truck drivers receive adequate sleep while on the road. It’s not just for the trucker’s safety, but for everyone on our highways and interstates. The rules mandate that truck drivers can only drive for fourteen hours of the day, and that they can only drive consecutively for eleven hours before taking a break. Furthermore, truckers are prohibited from driving after being on duty sixty hours in seven consecutive days, or seventy hours in eight consecutive days.

Other rules involve a “restart” period, which mandates that at least two periods of rest occur between 1:00 am and 5:00 am, and that drivers must take a thirty-minute break within the first eight hours of a shift.

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These rules exist for our safety. There are too many truck accidents on the road, and too many truck drivers willing to take reckless risks at the expense of everyone else’s safety. As an experienced truck accident attorney, I have seen what these accidents can do first-hand. Trucking is a wonderful way to transport goods around the country, but the fact is, the job needs to be done safely—and that’s why it’s important we have rules to combat dangerous and preventable behavior like driver fatigue.