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How Truck Driver Fatigue Impacts Road Safety

Categorized as Truck Accidents

The Prevalence of Fatigued Drivers on Truck Crashes

Truckers have to live up to high expectations when it comes to delivering goods within deadlines. Although there are provisions and rules to ensure truck drivers are staying safe on the road, truck accidents due to driver fatigue are far too common. Here’s what you need to know.

What Causes Truck Driver Fatigue?

Not only must truck drivers make long hauls, but they must also abide by laws and regulations that have limitations on the amount of time they can spend driving on the road. Due to these constraints and the pressure to get deliveries made on time, some drivers may not take the opportunity to get the proper amount of rest and sleep.

According to a 2007 Large Truck Crash Causation Study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers were considered to have been fatigued at the time of their crash. Truck driver fatigue is one of the main reasons why trucking accidents occur in the U.S. Long hours on the road with demanding deadlines can severely impair the judgment of a truck driver.

Symptoms of fatigue vary between drivers but may include:

  • Yawning
  • Poor Concentration
  • Restlessness
  • Drowsiness
  • Slow Reactions
  • Missing Road Signs
  • Difficulty Staying in Proper Lane

If you drive on the road, you know the specific laws and rules you must follow. These are put into place to keep everyone on the road safe. Commercial truck drivers must follow the same rules, but they are also held to hours of service rules regulated by the FMCSA. The goal of the hours of service rules is to keep truck drivers from operating their vehicles while fatigued. Read on to learn more about the hours of service regulations.

Who Must Abide By the FMCSA Hours of Service Regulations?

The FMCSA outlines the regulations truck drivers must follow, set forth by the hours of service. This is the case for most drivers of commercial motor vehicles. The agency considers a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) as one that:

  • Weighs 10,001 lbs. or heavier.
  • Has a gross combination weight rating or gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 lbs. or heavier.
  • Transports 16 or more passengers, including the driver, and not for compensation.
  • Transports 9 or more passengers, including the driver, and for compensation.
  • Transports a number of hazardous materials that would require a placard.

Commercial motor vehicle drivers need to know what actions they need to take to ensure they are well-rested when operating their trucks. These actions must be accurately recorded in the driver’s log. If something goes wrong and the truck driver crashes, these logs may help determine the cause of the collision, which can determine liability.

FMCSA Hours of Service Regulations

The FMCSA hours of service regulations differ for property-carrying drivers and passenger-carrying drivers. For property-carrying drivers, the rules are as follows:

  • Drivers can drive 11 hours maximum after being off duty for 10 consecutive hours.
  • Drivers may not drive beyond 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty and being off duty for 10 straight hours.
  • Drivers may not drive after 60 – 70 hours on duty in 7 – 8 consecutive days. The 7 – 8 day period will restart after the driver is off duty for 34 or more consecutive hours.
  • Drivers must take 8 consecutive hours or more in the sleeper berth when using the sleeper berth provision. They must also have a separate 2 consecutive hours off duty, in the sleeper berth, or a combination of both.

Passenger-carrying drivers have similar regulations they must follow, but their driving limits are changed to 10 hours and 15 hours for the first two regulations. If a driver fails to follow these regulations, they can cause severe injuries in a collision.

New Sleeper Berth Provisions

In addition to the hours of service rules, the FMCSA updated the sleeper berth rules on June 1, 2020, to give drivers more flexibility and to help combat the prevalence of truck driver fatigue. A sleeper berth is a compartment in a truck where drivers can rest and sleep. The new rules are as follows:

Cargo-carrying Drivers

  • Drivers carrying cargo are permitted to split their required 10-hour off-duty period (in or out of the sleeper berth) as long as they are off duty for at least 2 hours, and the at least 7 consecutive hours are spent in the sleeper berth and;

  • All sleeper berth splits must add up to at least 10 hours.

Passenger-carrying Drivers

  • Drivers with passengers who are using a sleeper berth must take at least 8 hours and;
  • May split the sleeper berth time into two periods, but no less than 2 hours and;
  • All sleeper berth splits must add up to at least 10 hours.

Injured in a Truck Accident? We Can Help.

Injuries from a severe truck accident can be catastrophic. From traumatic brain injuries to spinal cord injuries, the outcome can be long-term complications for victims. If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries and need help filing a truck accident claim, our team of experienced attorneys is ready to protect your rights.

When the negligence of another party causes you harm, let us be your advocate in holding those responsible for your injuries accountable for their careless actions. When your injuries require medical care, treatments, and therapies and the costs are mounting, the financial strains can be overwhelming. Know that you are not alone, and you have the right to receive compensation.

Contact Peterson & Associates, P.C. today at 816-888-8888 to speak with an attorney about your potential case.