People who drive commercial trucks do not have easy jobs. They often have to help load and unload their vehicles. They drive many hours straight, with very little outside interaction. No matter what the road conditions or weather is like, their employers or clients still expect on-time deliveries. That can lead truck drivers to make questionable choices that put other people on the road in unnecessary danger.
Fatigue and exhaustion impact your ability to quickly respond to sudden changes in the environment. They can also make it harder to focus on the road. They can even lead to drivers falling asleep at the wheel. All of this is dangerous when the vehicle in question is a typical passenger vehicle. When it’s a multiple-ton commercial truck, however, the outcome can be tragic.
Truckers have many reasons for driving when they’re tired
Sometimes, an accident can leave traffic backed up for miles. This can create a significant delay in the travel timeline for commercial drivers. Other times, bad weather may require slower driving for a significant portion of the trip, which could also cause issues with getting a delivery to its destination on time. Some employers even offer truck drivers per-mile incentives or lump sum bonuses for on-time deliveries.
All of these factors and more could motivate a truck driver to stay behind the wheel when he or she should rest instead. That decision puts everyone on the road in danger of a collision. The driver may hope to arrive safely, but exhaustion could end up causing a crash that injures or even kills other people.
The federal government has laws to reduce exhausted driving
Knowing that exhaustion factors into many crashes, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has Hours of Service regulations in place to reduce fatigued driving. These laws limit how long truck drivers can operate a commercial vehicle and also mandate sleep rests and breaks.
A commercial trucker can only drive 11 hours after 10 consecutive off-duty hours. They also cannot drive beyond the 14th hour after they start their shift, even if they’ve taken some breaks. They cannot drive more than 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days.
Despite hopes that technology could soon mitigate the risks of fatigued commercial drivers, currently these exhaustion tests are not mandatory. Instead, drivers simply log their hours on and rest periods. Some truck drivers may choose to violate the Rules of Service or even go so far as to falsify records about break times and rest. If you experienced a crash with a truck driver and believe exhaustion played a part, you may need to take steps to hold the driver accountable for the injuries and losses you sustained.