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Truck Driver Fatigue

Fatigue is defined as the result of physical or mental exertion that impairs a person's performance. Most definitions of truck driver fatigue describe it as the exhausted, sleepy, or extremely tired feeling a driver experiences while operating a commercial vehicle. Many truck drivers of long distance semi-truck, or 18 wheeler rigs work very long hours while facing impracticable deadlines caused by trying to meet their company's rigid schedules. Pushing themselves beyond what is physically safe, no wonder truck driver fatigue is one of the main reasons why truck accidents occur on the highways in the United States. Because truck driver fatigue results in the severely impair the judgment of the individual who is behind the wheel of a commercial motor vehicle, it is particularly dangerous because one symptom of truck driver fatigue includes the decreased ability of the driver to be able to evaluate their own level of fatigue.

Failing to have an adequate period of sleep truck drivers who force themselves to stay awake longer than the conventional 16-17 waking hours in a day end up suffering sleep deprivation. Experiencing sleep deprivation increases the effects of fatigue that can ultimately lead to a reduced safety driving performance. According to the Motor Carrier Management Information System (See more information at: http://mcmiscatalog.fmcsa.dot.gov/) the adequate period of sleep for a truck driver is seven to eight hours within a 24-hour period.  As the period without sleep is extended, sleep deprivation will accumulate and overlap on the person's circadian rhythm. Some drivers may attempt to break their necessary daily sleep pattern into two shorter periods rather than one single unbroken period. Unfortunately it may only cause additional sleep deficit.

Symptoms vary between drivers, but may include:

  • Difficulty Staying in Proper Lane
  • Drowsiness
  • Boredom
  • Feeling Irritable
  • Missing Road Signs
  • Poor Concentration
  • Restlessness
  • Tired or Sore Eyes
  • Slow Reactions
  • Yawning

Maintained, by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), data compiled by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the General Estimates System (GES) demonstrates that 8.15% of all crashes involving a truck were caused by driver fatigue. In addition, the study showed that most drivers involved in fatal fatigue-related accidents were males.  During the 4-year span data was gathered, about 82% of fatal fatigue-related accidents involved male drivers.
The FARS, NHTSA,along with the University Of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) assembled data on the relative risk per hour of sleep deprivation in truck driver, fatigue-related accidents. The comprehensive study found that for every hour of sleep deprivation the odds of a truck accident increasd.

 
According to the study, after:

  • 1 hr. of driving there were 102 fatigue related accidents out of 10,412 = 0.98%
  • 2 hr. of driving there were 94 fatigue related accidents out of 5,947 = 1.58%
  • 4 hr. of driving there were 68 fatigue related accidents out of 3,028 = 2.26%
  • 8 hr. of driving there were 48 fatigue related accidents out of 1,668 = 2.88%
  • 11 hr. of driving there were 9 fatigue related accidents out of 94 = 9.57%
  • 12 hr. of driving there were 10 fatigue related accidents out of 115 = 8.70%
  • 13 hr. of driving there were 8 fatigue related accidents out of 32 = 25%

Many people believe that truck driver fatigue is simply a function of time spent driving. It is not! Truck driver fatigue also relates to many other factors including hours since the driver last slept (hours of wakefulness), how well they have slept, and the time of day or night when they slept.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a serious truck accident due to truck driver fatigue, contact one of our experienced truck accident lawyers at Gordon Elias & Seely, L.L.P. Call toll free at 800 - 773 - 6770!

Updated: KE

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Contact one of our experienced truck accident lawyers at Gordon Elias & Seely, L.L.P., if you or someone you know has been involved in a serious truck accident due to truck driver fatigue.Call toll free at 800 - 773 - 6770!

The content of this website is provided for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice. If you need help with a Truck Accident claim, consult an experienced trucking accident attorney from the law offices of Gordon Elias & Seely, L.L.P. by calling TOLL FREE: 800 - 773 - 6770 OR by filling out the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page.
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