How Driver Fatigue Causes Big Rig Accidents

Drowsy driving is a problem that some say has reached epidemic proportions in the commercial trucking industry. The potential for major accidents is magnified when a truck driver is fatigued or actually nods off at the wheel.

Trucking accidents caused by a fatigued driver falling asleep at the wheel are inexcusable. Victims of these types of accidents can potentially hold both the driver and his or her trucking company liable for damages sustained. We provide aggressive representation for people throughout Texas and the nation, including the cities of San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Austin, Laredo and Corpus Christi.

If you were involved in a serious big rig crash, contact a trucking accident lawyer at Wyatt Law Firm today to discuss your legal rights and options.

Drowsy Truck Drivers Are An Accident Waiting To Happen

In a survey of all drivers, the National Sleep Foundation found that more than one-third admitted they had fallen asleep at the wheel at least once in the past year. The problem of fatigued driving is arguably more serious in the trucking industry due to a number of factors, including:

  • The pressure to deliver cargo on a strict deadline
  • Shipping deadlines that leave little room to account for traffic and other delays
  • Even more pressure added by strict driving time and rest time requirements

Because of the size and weight of trucks, the danger to the public is much worse when that commercial driver is sleepy.

FMCSA Hours Of Service Regulations

The portion of federal trucking laws that directly concerns truck driver fatigue is the Hours of Service rule. The Hours of Service or "HOS" regulations apply to most commercial truck drivers. Restrictions differ depending on the type of truck and type of cargo. For example, there is an 11-hour driving limit for property-carrying commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers so long as they have taken at least 10 hours off-duty. The driving limit goes down to 10 hours for passenger-carrying CMV drivers. Continue reading for a brief overview of HOS laws.

Truckers Who Drive At Night

Truckers who drive at night are statistically more likely to fall asleep at the wheel and become involved in fatigue-related accidents than truckers who drive during the day, regardless of how many hours off-duty they have had or how many hours of sleep they have had. Studies have found that driving during nighttime and early morning hours has more to do with crash rates than hours of sleep or hours off-duty. Unfortunately, truckers still have to drive at night.

Drowsy Driving Vs. Drunk Driving: Which Is More Dangerous?

A recent study found that the effects of driving while sleep-deprived or tired are actually more severe than the effects of driving while intoxicated. Another study conducted by the AAA Foundation found that drowsy driving is responsible for approximately one out of every six fatal car accidents. That statistic again: drowsy driving is a factor in 17 percent of all fatal car crashes.

Factoring in the size and mass of commercial trucks, the outcome of drowsy driving crashes is often disastrous. If you or someone you love was involved in an accident caused by a big rig driver, we invite you to contact us to discuss the merits of your case. Wyatt Law Firm's team of trucking accident attorneys has extensive experience handling these types of cases. Call us today or fill out a free online case evaluation form to get in touch with us.