Truck Driver Fatigue: Drowsy Truck Drivers Put Others at Risk

Mature truck diver feeling tired and yawning during the ride. Concept for Truck Driver Fatigue: Drowsy Truck Drivers Put Others at Risk.

Truck driver fatigue is one of most common causes of trucking accidents in Michigan. When truck drivers are tired, they increase the risk of causing an accident. To address the issue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates commercial truck drivers, has passed rules that specify the number of hours a truck driver can operate a vehicle and mandate when and for how long truck drivers must take rest breaks. Nonetheless, many truck drivers violate the hours of service rules and drive while tired, they put their lives and the lives of other people sharing the road with them at risk.

Causes of Truck Driver Fatigue

Driving while tired makes a person less able to pay attention, slows reaction time, and impairs a driver’s ability to make good decisions. Common causes of truck driver fatigue include:

  • Insufficient sleep;
  • Poor quality sleep;
  • Pressure to deliver a load; and
  • Driving more than is permitted.

Regardless of the cause, truck drivers who do not get enough sleep and drive while tired put themselves and others at risk. Sleep-deprived truck drivers are more likely to experience the following effects:

  • Delayed reaction times;
  • Lack of alertness;
  • Poor decision-making;
  • Cognitive impairment.

Some experts believe that the effects of driving while tired are similar to driving while drunk.

Truck Driver Fatigue Laws

To combat truck driver fatigue, the FMSCA has passed “Hours of Service Rules” that regulate how long a commercial truck driver can operate a vehicle without taking a break.

When calculating hours of service, drivers must follow both the “11-hour Rule” and the “14-hour Rule.”

  • Under the 11-Hour Rule, truck drivers can operate a commercial vehicle for up to 11 hours at a time. When a driver reaches 11 hours, they must stop driving and rest for at least 10 hours. After a driver has been off-duty for at least 10 hours, they can drive another 11-hour shift.
  • The 14-Hour Rule requires that drivers complete the 11 hours of driving within a 14-hour window. During these three extra hours, a truck driver can eat meals, perform maintenance or repairs, stop for fuel or vehicle inspections, or take a break.

Truck drivers are also required to stop driving for at least 30 minutes after every eight hours on the road.

Proving Truck Driver Fatigue

Proving that a truck driver was driving while tired can be challenging. Unlike a test for alcohol intoxication, there is no objective standard for tiredness. But in cases where truck driver fatigue may have been a factor, our experienced truck accident injury lawyers can analyze “black box” data and other evidence to prove that truck driver fatigue was a factor in causing an accident. Proving that a truck driver was tired or driving in violation of the Hours of Service rules can help build a strong case.

Contact a Truck Driver Fatigue Accident Lawyer at Muth Law, P.C.

If you were injured or someone you love was killed in a trucking accident, the truck accident injury lawyers at Muth Law, P.C. can help. With over 35 years of experience helping people hurt in trucking accidents, we know how injuries from a serious truck accident can devastate a family. While we can't heal your physical injuries, we can pursue recovery from the people who are responsible for causing them. Let us take the legal and financial worries off your plate so you can focus on your health and your family.

From our offices in Ann Arbor, we represent people throughout Michigan. Contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation regarding your truck accident injury matter. Call us at 734-481-8800, send us an e-mail, or complete the online contact form. We look forward to serving your family.