Trucking Fatigue: The Dangers of Driving While Drowsy

by Paula A. Wyatt | June 17, 2023 | Blog, Truck Accidents | 0 comments

Trucking Fatigue: The Dangers of Driving While Drowsy

Truck driver fatigue is a pervasive issue that poses significant risks to road safety. The consequences of drowsy truck drivers can be catastrophic, leading to devastating truck accidents and life-altering injuries.

Driving While Drowsy Can be Deadly

It is well known that driving while drowsy can be a contributing factor to poor performance, including impaired decision-making and falling asleep at the wheel. Perhaps the most dangerous result of fatigue on the road is death.

Because commercial vehicles are so large, the aftermath of their accidents is usually much more serious compared to other vehicle crashes. 

An accident caused by driver fatigue usually results in major injury, if not death. Trucking accidents caused by negligence such as fatigue are issues that cannot go unheard.

To get the representation you deserve after being injured in an accident caused by truck driver fatigue, seeking advice from a San Antonio truck accident lawyer is a good idea.

What is Truck Driver Fatigue?

Truck driver fatigue refers to a state of exhaustion or extreme tiredness experienced by truck drivers while operating their vehicles.

Drowsy driving occurs when drivers are unable to maintain alertness and concentration due to insufficient rest or prolonged periods of wakefulness.

Fatigue is a common problem in the trucking industry, primarily because drivers often face demanding schedules and long hours on the road.

How Many Hours Can a Truck Driver Drive?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck drivers are subject to hours-of-service regulations that dictate the maximum number of hours they can be on the road per week.

The regulations allow truck drivers to be on duty for a maximum of 70 hours in any consecutive 8-day period. Additionally, within a 7-day workweek, drivers are restricted to a maximum of 60 hours on duty.

However, to reset the clock and comply with the regulations, drivers must take a 34-hour rest period that includes two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

This rest period is commonly referred to as the "34-hour restart." These regulations aim to prevent driver fatigue and ensure road safety.

What Causes Trucker Fatigue?

Truck drivers face numerous challenges that contribute to fatigue. Understanding these causes is crucial in addressing the issue effectively. Some common factors include:

  • Long and Monotonous Routes. The nature of trucking often involves long, monotonous journeys that can lead to driver fatigue. The endless stretches of highways, with little change in scenery, can take a toll on a driver's mental and physical well-being.
  • Irregular and Extended Work Hours. Truck drivers frequently face irregular work schedules, including overnight shifts, early morning departures, and long hours on the road. These irregularities disrupt their sleep patterns, leaving them susceptible to fatigue and exhaustion.
  • Sleep Apnea and Other Health Issues. Health conditions, such as sleep apnea, can significantly impact a truck driver's quality of sleep. Sleep disorders, combined with the demanding nature of their profession, increase the risk of fatigue-related accidents.

What Are the Consequences of Truck Driver Fatigue?

The consequences of truck driver fatigue extend beyond the individual driver, affecting road safety and legal accountability. Understanding these consequences is vital in addressing the issue effectively. Some notable impacts include:

  • Increased Accident Rates and Fatal Collisions. Fatigued truck drivers experience decreased reaction times and impaired decision-making, resulting in an increased risk of truck accidents. These accidents, often involving other motor vehicles, can be fatal due to the size and weight of commercial trucks.
  • Legal Implications and the Role of Truck Accident Lawyers. Trucking companies that neglect to address truck driver fatigue may face legal repercussions. Truck accident lawyers play a crucial role in representing victims and seeking compensation for injuries sustained in truck accidents caused by drowsy driving.

What Are Some Ways to Prevent Truck Driver Fatigue?

Preventive measures and safety strategies are crucial in mitigating truck driver fatigue. Implementing these strategies can help ensure the well-being of truck drivers and enhance road safety. Some effective measures include:

  • Adhering to Hours of Service Regulations. Following FMCSA's hours of service regulations is essential to prevent excessive fatigue. These regulations restrict the number of consecutive hours a driver can be on the road and provide necessary rest periods.
  • Encouraging Rest and Breaks. Truck drivers should take regular rest stops and breaks during long journeys. These breaks allow for physical and mental rejuvenation, reducing the risk of drowsiness and fatigue.
  • Promoting Sleep and Health Awareness. Educating truck drivers about the importance of quality sleep and addressing health issues such as sleep apnea can significantly mitigate fatigue. Implementing sleep hygiene practices and raising awareness about the detrimental effects of drowsy driving can contribute to safer roads.
  • The Role of Trucking Companies and Communication. Trucking companies play a vital role in combating truck driver fatigue. They should prioritize safety and establish a culture that promotes driver well-being. Effective communication channels between employers and employees are crucial in addressing fatigue-related concerns and implementing appropriate solutions.

Who’s Liable for an Accident Caused by a Tired Driver?

Determining liability for an accident caused by a tired driver depends on several factors, including the specific circumstances of the case and applicable laws. Here are some parties that may potentially be held liable:

1. Truck Driver: The truck driver who caused the accident may be held liable if their fatigue or drowsiness was a result of negligence, such as violating hours-of-service regulations or failing to take appropriate breaks.

If it can be proven that the driver's fatigue directly contributed to the accident, they may be held responsible for the damages.

2. Trucking Company: The trucking company that employs the driver may also be held liable under certain circumstances.

If the company failed to ensure compliance with federal regulations, such as monitoring and enforcing hours-of-service requirements, or if they pressured drivers to exceed safe driving limits, they may share in the liability for the accident.

3. Third Parties: In some cases, third parties may be partially responsible for the accident. For example, if a maintenance company fails to properly maintain the truck's brakes or other critical components, leading to the driver's fatigue, they could be liable for their negligence.

4. Other Potentially Liable Parties: Depending on the specific details of the accident, there may be additional parties that could be held responsible.

For instance, if the truck driver was working as an independent contractor, liability may extend to the company that hired their services. It's crucial to thoroughly investigate the accident to identify all potentially liable parties.

Determining liability in cases of tired driver accidents can be complex, and it often requires a detailed investigation of the facts, examination of driving logs, inspection of maintenance records, and expert analysis.

Consulting with an experienced truck accident lawyer is essential to navigate through the legal complexities, gather evidence, and build a strong case to hold the responsible parties accountable.

Consulting with a qualified truck accident lawyer is essential to understand the specific details of your case and receiving personalized guidance based on your circumstances.

What Should I Do if I Suspect Fatigue as a Cause of a Truck Accident?

Truck Accident Lawyers in San Antonio Texas

If you suspect that truck driver fatigue played a role in a truck accident, it's essential to take certain steps to protect your rights and ensure the appropriate actions are taken. Here's what you should do:

1. Seek Medical Attention: First and foremost, prioritize your health and safety. If you or anyone involved in the accident has sustained injuries, seek immediate medical attention.

A prompt medical evaluation can document any injuries and establish a connection between the accident and your health condition.

2. Contact Law Enforcement: Report the accident to the appropriate authorities, such as the police or highway patrol. Provide them with accurate details of the incident, including your observations regarding the truck driver's behavior or signs of potential fatigue.

3. Gather Evidence: If possible, collect evidence from the accident scene. Take photographs of the vehicles involved, the road conditions, and any visible damages. Obtain contact information from witnesses who may have observed the accident or have information about the truck driver's behavior.

4. Document Your Recollection: Write down your account of the accident as soon as possible while the details are still fresh in your memory. Include information about what you observed regarding the truck driver's behavior, signs of fatigue, or any other relevant details that may support your claim.

5. Avoid Discussing Fault: Refrain from discussing the accident or admitting fault to anyone at the scene. Stick to the facts and provide your statement to the authorities when they arrive.

6. Consult with a Truck Accident Lawyer: Contact a reputable truck accident lawyer who handles cases involving truck accidents and driver fatigue. They can provide expert guidance, evaluate your case, and advise you on the best course of action to protect your rights and pursue compensation.

7. Preserve Evidence: Preserve any evidence related to the accident, such as medical records, photographs, witness statements, and any communication with insurance companies or the trucking company. This evidence can be crucial in establishing liability and supporting your claim.

Remember, truck accidents involving fatigue can be complex, and proving driver fatigue as a cause requires careful investigation.

An experienced truck accident lawyer will navigate the legal process on your behalf, gather evidence, consult with experts if necessary, and advocate for your rights to help you seek fair compensation for your injuries and damages.

Consulting with a qualified truck accident lawyer is essential to understand the specific details of your case and receiving personalized guidance based on your circumstances.

In the unfortunate event of a truck accident caused by drowsy driving or truck driver fatigue, it is crucial to seek legal support from experienced truck accident lawyers.

These professionals focus on handling cases involving truck accidents and can provide valuable assistance throughout the legal process.

A skilled truck accident lawyer understands the complexities of trucking regulations, including the FMCSA's hours-of-service requirements.

Truck injury attorneys have in-depth knowledge of the laws and can investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident to determine if violations of the hours-of-service regulations occurred.

If it is found that the truck driver or trucking company exceeded the allowed hours of driving, resulting in fatigue-related impairment, it can be a crucial factor in establishing liability.

Truck accident lawyers can gather evidence, such as logbooks, electronic data records, and witness testimonies, to build a strong case on your behalf.

They will work diligently to establish the negligence of the truck driver or trucking company and pursue the compensation you deserve for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

By enlisting the help of a truck accident lawyer, you can navigate the legal complexities associated with truck accidents, ensuring your rights are protected and that you have the best chance of obtaining a favorable outcome.

Contact a San Antonio Truck Accident Attorney 

Wyatt Law Firm: Holding trucking companies accountable for over 30 years

At Wyatt Law Firm, our team, led by experienced San Antonio truck accident injury lawyers, has a proven record of securing substantial compensation for clients who have suffered wrongful injuries or lost loved ones. 

With a combined recovery of over half a billion dollars, we are dedicated to protecting our clients from unfair settlement offers and the tactics of unscrupulous risk management attorneys.

paula a wyatt attorney wyatt law firm san antonio
San Antonio Truck Accident Attorney, Paula A. Wyatt

If you need legal representation, don't hesitate to reach out to us. Call Wyatt Law Firm today at (210) 340-5550 or contact online us to schedule a case evaluation. We are honored to serve injured accident victims in San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Austin, Laredo, Corpus Christi, and surrounding areas.

We understand the financial burdens that can arise from a truck accident, wrongful death, or other personal injury. That's why we offer our services on a contingency fee basis. This means that you won't have to worry about upfront attorney fees.

We only collect a fee if we successfully secure compensation for you. Our commitment is to fight for your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for your case while easing the financial stress on you and your family.

Contact Wyatt Law Firm today to discuss your legal options and let us guide you through the complex process of seeking justice and fair compensation. Our experienced team is here to provide compassionate support, aggressive advocacy, and unwavering dedication to your case.


"*" indicates required fields

I have read the disclaimer.**