Truck Accidents And Truck Driver Fatigue

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There are many reasons why truck accidents occur, but the most significant cause for truck accidents is truck driver fatigue, which accounts for as much as 35-40% of all truck accidents. This figure is so high because truck driver work long hours, face strenuous deadlines, and have to abide by strict, rigorous schedules. Truck driver fatigue and the pressure to keep driving despite it can seriously impair the judgment of an individual who is behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle.

What Is Truck Driver Fatigue?

Fatigue refers to lack of sleep, extreme tiredness, or exhaustion. Fatigue does not necessarily refer to just one thing, but can be a combination of all of the above. Not getting the required amount of sleep, loading and unloading heavy loads, putting in overtime at work, etc., can all lead to truck driver fatigue. Driver fatigue can also impair an individuals ability to gauge their own level of fatigue.

When a truck driver is fatigued, it is very easy for them to nod off or fall asleep at the wheel of their truck. Trucks are large heavy machines, and when they are going 70 miles an hour without the control of a driver, serious injuries or death can occur.

Federal Involvement in Reducing Truck Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers, on average, do not command very high salaries. Driving for 12-14 hours at a stretch, and clocking in more than 16-18 hours at work, is common for truck drivers. This leaves them incredibly tired, due to which their physical as well as mental capacity is reduced. This fatigue can cause truck accidents.

Due to the rising number of fatigue-related truck accidents, the federal government has, after almost 60 years, changed the rules and duty hours for truck drivers. According to the new federal laws, no truck driver is legally permitted to drive more than 11 consecutive hours without taking a 10-hour break in between two driving shifts. A truck driver can clock a maximum of 14 hours at work, only 11 of which can actually be spent on the road.

In a seven-day period, truck drivers can drive for a maximum of 60-77 hours, and are allowed 70-88 hours in any consecutive eight-day period. If a truck driver takes two and a half days off from work at any given time, he or she can then start their work week at zero hours.

In spite of these rules, which have been established to reduce truck driver fatigue and consequently reduce the number of truck accidents, not all truck drivers and trucking companies actually follow these rules. Although truck drivers are required to maintain a log book of their driving hours, such log books can easily be falsified, and are thus not necessarily an accurate indicator of the number of hours a truck driver spends on the job.

Factors Contributing To Truck Driver Fatigue

There are a lot of factors that add to truck driver fatigue. These are:

1)The desire of truck drivers to make more money, which entails more driving than is legally allowed.
2)Trying to meet tight delivery deadlines, which again make the truck drivers drive more miles than is legally allowed.
3)Being ordered by the company to continue driving, without paying any heed to the complaints of the truck driver that he is just too exhausted to continue driving. In such situations, truck drivers follow the orders so as not to lose their jobs, but fail to understand that they can lose their lives if they get into an accident due to extreme fatigue.
4)Fatigue can cause the truck drivers to have hallucinations, fall asleep, and even reduce their mental capabilities. A fatigued truck driver may not be able to react to sudden situations capably enough, thus causing truck accidents, which could have been averted had the truck driver been rested and alert.


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