The Dangers of Truck Driver Fatigue
There were over 450,000 accidents involving large trucks in the United States in 2003. All too many of those were caused at least in part by driver fatigue. This is a widespread problem. In fact, one out of nine deaths due to traffic accidents involves a large truck, a number that adds up to thousands of innocent people every year.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has enacted regulations that seek to control the rest patterns of truck drivers. Hours of Service rules are structured around the idea of ensuring truck drivers get enough sleep and rest before beginning a work shift. Drivers are also required to keep logs of their rest time. In a 24-hour period, they can legally drive for 11 consecutive hours before settling down to rest for 10 hours. The time limit in a single day is 14 hours of driving. Based on the National Highway Transportation Safety Association rules, legal examiners are required to review the logs of the driver's rest habits to see whether they followed or ignored federal regulations.
Still, truck drivers are encouraged by other factors to keep going after the legal work limits. Most of the time, truckers are paid by the mile rather than receiving an hourly salary. This financial pressure is accompanied by the need for them to get deliveries to their final destinations in time. Money and work performance pressures impact the judgment of workers in many industries, and truck drivers often ignore important safety regulations in the desire to meet tight deadlines and to improve their profits.
Sleep deprivation is a factor in a large number of truck accidents. In addition to long-term health effects, lack of sleep causes many short-term issues as well, including a decrease in alertness and also impaired memory and cognitive abilities. Not sleeping well or enough can actually make it hard to think and process information, something that is quite dangerous when driving. It can even be hard to pay attention to TV shows, let alone drive a large truck with a potentially heavy load.
Lack of sleep causes lapses in memory that, in turn, degrade a person's capability for problem-solving. It also makes people moody and less tolerant of stress; this is potentially dangerous because there are often sudden stressful situations when driving. Therefore, the legal implications go along with the reasons why truckers should always avoid driving when tired. If you have been injured, or a loved one has been lost because of a reckless truck driver, then a truck accident lawyer can get you the compensation you need and deserve, especially if the driver's logs shows a lack of rest.
U.S. Department of Transportation, "Title 49 -- Transportation, Chapter III -- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Part 395 Hours of Service of Drivers", http://knowledgebase.findlaw.com/kb/2011/Jan/207663.html (accessed March 15, 2011).
Sherrie Bennett, "Trucking Accidents", http://personal-injury.lawyers.com/trucking-accidents/Trucking-Accidents.html (accessed March 15, 2011).
Vicki Bell, "How Sleep Deprivation Affects Work Performance", http://www.thefabricator.com/article/safety/how-sleep-deprivation-affects-work-performance (accessed March 15, 2011).