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How Fatigued Driving Leads to Accidents

a truck driver yawning behind the wheel

Tiredness is a significant risk factor for accidents, especially truck accidents. Fatigued drivers can cause serious injuries and even death, and many truck drivers are affected by fatigue due to long hours and pressure from their company. This blog discusses what fatigued driving is, how truck drivers are especially affected by fatigue, and how regular drivers can stay safe and avoid tired truck drivers.

What Is Fatigued Driving?

Fatigued driving occurs when a driver operates a vehicle while experiencing physical or mental exhaustion that impairs their ability to concentrate, make sound decisions, or react quickly to changing road conditions. In addition to the apparent danger posed by a tired driver's inability to focus on the road, fatigue has been linked to:

  • Longer reaction times
  • Poor lane control
  • Decreased vision
  • Decreased cognitive function
  • Impaired judgment

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone who goes without sleep for 17 hours is similar to someone who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05 percent. After not sleeping for 24 hours, someone behind the wheel might as well have a BAC of .10 percent, over the legal limit.

Regulations in Place

To prevent truck driver’s from becoming overly tired, there are numerous regulations in place that limit how long a driver can drive without taking a break. The Hours of Service (HOS) regulations set out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limit most commercial motor vehicle operators to 11 hours of consecutive driving followed by 10 hours off duty before returning behind the wheel. After 8 hours behind the wheel, truck drivers must take a 30-minute break.

These regulations apply to property-carrying drivers and passenger-carrying drivers alike, each with special provisions. Commercial drivers must strictly follow these regulations to remain compliant with state laws as well as federal laws.

The Causes of Fatigued Driving

For many truck drivers, the pressure they face from employers to complete jobs quickly is immense. This pressure can lead them to ignore signs of fatigue to meet their employer's demands or even push themselves beyond recommended limits on hours of service regulations. Not only does this put their own safety at risk, but it also creates a dangerous situation for other vehicles on the road if they become drowsy or fall asleep at the wheel.

How to Steer Clear of Fatigued Drivers

To avoid dangerous collisions when driving near or alongside commercial trucks, it is important to be alert and observant. Drivers should keep an appropriate distance from large trucks so they can respond quickly in case the driver in front makes a sudden maneuver due to fatigue-induced distraction. Additionally, if you observe a truck driver displaying signs of being overly tired or drowsy such as drifting out of their lane or going too slow on the highway—you should steer clear as much as possible and as soon as safely possible.

How Obenshain Law Group Can Protect Your Rights

At Obenshain Law Group, we understand how scary and devastating the consequences of a truck accident can be. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a large truck, contact us right away to discuss your legal options to protect your rights. Our team of experienced attorneys are here to help guide you and fight for justice. You do not have to face this alone.

Contact us today at (540) 318-7360 or by filling out our form online and get started on the road to recovery.