Driving while sleepy can be a deathly combination. Falling asleep at the wheel makes it difficult to not get in an accident. Unfortunately, drowsiness and fatigue are conditions that truck drivers wind up driving under for many different reasons.
Driving for many hours at a time or taking on overnight shifts is the nature of the work performed by commercial truck drivers. Since a long shift isn’t a one-off experience for professional drivers, their demanding schedule can take a toll on them. And even though there are federal regulations for how many hours a driver can go before taking a break, truck accidents still happen because a driver feels drowsy or fatigued.
Federal rules allow drivers carrying cargo to drive up to 60 hours within a period of seven days and 70 hours within a period of eight days. If you feel like your eight-hour days at a desk job wears you down, federal guidelines allow drivers to take on more than eight hours of driving a day. In fact, 14-hours shifts are legal. Long hours and the extreme focus safe driving requires can be challenging to complete week after week.
To combat long hours on the road, many truck drivers resort to alertness tricks. This may include drinking some coffee for a caffeine boost, taking a nap to recharge or opening a window in hopes that a cool breeze will keep them awake. However, these tricks often will make way for temporary bursts of energy or can become harmful when overdone. For example, too much caffeine can leave you irritable and long naps may be less effective than short ones.
As a result of the combination of long hours, resorting to alertness tricks and other factors, truck drivers have collided with other vehicles on the road. In fact, through a federal study on the causes of large truck crashes, 13% of commercial motor vehicle drivers were experiencing fatigue at the time they crashed.
Thankfully, if you or a loved one has been a victim in truck crash caused by a fatigued driver, a personal injury attorney can help you navigate the legal process.