Trucks represent a large percentage of vehicles on American highways, perhaps more than one-third of all vehicles in traffic. Truck accidents pose extraordinary safety challenges due to their greater mass and the drivers’ unique and exhausting working schedules.
It is impossible to say exactly how many accidents every year are caused by drowsy truck drivers because, unlike a black box that records speed, braking, and steering trajectory at the moment of impact, there is no tool to determine driver fatigue. However, the government estimates that approximately 13 percent of all commercial drivers involved in collisions are fatigued.
Current legislation mandates that commercial drivers take a minimum of 34 hours, including two consecutive nights, off after working 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days. The majority of American workers receive two full days of rest after completing an average work-week of just 34.5 hours.
Every year truck accidents cause more than 5,000 fatalities and contribute to nearly 150,000 more injuries on our nation’s roadways. When drivers are operating their rigs excessively and become fatigued, the risk of causing a dangerous crash increases exponentially. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states that fatigued commercial drivers contributed directly to almost 40% of these deaths and injuries.
Fatigued drivers are subject to hallucinations, falling asleep behind the wheel, and reduced mental capacities. Truck drivers who have not had sufficient rest cannot react timely to the ever-changing dynamics of the road and traffic, and therefore, are incapable of averting dangerous situations, thus preventing accidents. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident because of truck driver fatigue, contact our Colorado Springs trucking accident law firm for experienced help today.
Driver Fatigue Facts
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that truck driver fatigue is a factor in 30-40% of all large truck crashes
- The FMCSA states that between the eighth and tenth hour of driving, the risk of having an accident doubles; the risk doubles again between driving ten to eleven hours
In addition to increasing the risk of driver mistakes because of reduced alertness and responsiveness, driving for long shifts actually hinders a truck driver’s capacity to benefit from rest even when they have ample off-duty time for sleep.
Effects of Fatigue on the Body
High levels of fatigue cause diminished productivity and performance, while increasing the risk of accidents. Those suffering from fatigue may suffer from lack of concentration, reduced hand-eye coordination, poor judgment, and slower reaction times.
Experienced truck driving instructors equate drowsy driving to drunk driving, and, in fact, staying awake for 21 consecutive hours is equivalent to having a blood alcohol content of 0.1%- well over the legal limit for DUI.