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Truck Driver Fatigue and Accidents

Sitting behind the wheel for a long time can make you tired. Most drivers have experienced fatigue or even falling asleep behind the wheel at least once in their lives. It can be a frightening experience, especially on the highway traveling at more than 60 miles per hour. Truck drivers can experience driving fatigue and drowsy driving. However, when a trucker falls asleep, it can be much more dangerous with a 50,000 pound trailer in tow.

According to a study by AAA, there is a correlation between the amount of sleep and accidents. And the amount of lost sleep that increases the risk of an accident is pretty low.

Drivers who miss 1 hour of sleep or less

1.3 times increased risk of an accident

Drivers who miss between 1 hour and 2 hours of sleep

1.9 times increased risk of an accident

Drivers who miss between 2 hours and 3 hours of sleep

4.3 times increased risk of an accident

Drivers who miss more than 3 hours of sleep

11.5 times increased risk of an accident

Accidents Caused by Truck Drivers Falling Asleep

Accidents caused by truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel are all too common. Over the past couple of months, here are some of the accidents caused by drowsy drivers: 

  • In New York, a truck driver hauling cattle fell asleep, causing an overturn crash that killed 5 cows.
  • In Wyoming, a woman was killed after she was hit by a truck driver who law enforcement say fell asleep while driving.
  • In Texas, a truck driver reportedly fell asleep behind the wheel, crashing into a used car dealership. 
  • In Mississippi, the driver of an 18-wheeler fell asleep and ran off the road. Fortunately, no injuries were involved. 

Truck Driver Drowsy Driving Tips

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) offers some tips for drivers who feel fatigued as the result of physical or mental exertion caused by lack of sleep, extended work hours, or strenuous activities. This includes:

  1. Get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel.
  2. Maintain a healthy diet.
  3. Take a nap.
  4. Avoid medication that may induce drowsiness.
  5. Recognize the signals and dangers of drowsiness.
  6. Do not rely on “alertness tricks” to keep you awake. 

Limiting Truck Driver Hours

There are federal trucking regulations in place that are supposed to limit the amount of time a truck driver is behind the wheel. Hours of service regulations are supposed to prevent drivers from operating for more than 11 hours, diving for more than 8 hours without taking a 30-minute break, or driving more than 60/70 hours in 7/8 consecutive days. Unfortunately, those rules are not always enforced. Some drivers and trucking companies falsify records to hide the fact that they may be putting others on the road in danger of an accident. 

Truck Accident Injury Lawyer

In an accident between a semi truck and a car, the people in the car almost always lose. The majority of people killed in trucking accidents were passengers and drivers in an automobile struck by the truck. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a truck accident in Philadelphia, Baltimore, or DC, contact us online or call us at (800) 529-6162 for a free consultation.

About the Author

Charles Gilman
Charles Gilman
Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.


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