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The Dangers of Driver Fatigue in Semi Trucks

The dangers of driver fatigue .



Everyone knows the dangers of drunken driving or truck drivers under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs. Additionally, for truck drivers covered under the Federal Safety Regulations texting has been banned in an effort to make our roadways safer.


One area of concern is the dangers to our community by truck drivers that are driving fatigued. Fatigued truckers can be every bit as dangerous as drivers under the influence or those that may be distracted.


The problem is compounded by the sheer size and weight of a big rig. Everyone knows that trucks take longer to stop than passenger cars or pickup trucks. When a driver is fatigued, the inattention can easily result in tragedies of great proportion.




It is very difficult to accurately estimate the number of accidents caused by fatigued drivers of 18-wheelers. Truck crashes make up an inordinate number of fatal crashes typically because of the sheer size and weight of the tractor-trailers.


The National Transportation Safety Board believes that 30 to 40% of all commercial truck accidents involve some out some element of driver fatigue.


According to the FMCSA, truck driver fatigue was the main factor in at least 13% of all fatal crashes involving a big rig and a car.




Professional drivers can become fatigued in any number of ways and the majority of accidents that are caused by driver fatigue involved one or more of the following

  • Not enough sleep
  • Exceeding the allowable limit of driving
  • Pressure to get loads delivered
  • Ignoring the safety regulations regarding hours of work





There is no doubt that lack of sleep adversely affects everyone not just professional truck drivers. Numerous studies have shown that sleep deprivation slows your reaction time and also diminishes decision-making abilities.


Other adverse reactions for lack of sleep include limited alertness, impaired memory and decision-making processes reducing one’s immune system and also increasing the likelihood of a truck accident.




Many truck drivers are paid by the mile or the load and are under tremendous pressure to deliver the load as quickly as possible in order to make ends meet personally. Because of the increased pressure on truck drivers to get a load to a location quickly, the safety rules restrict hours of driving.


Some of the larger components of driver restrictions include the following:


  • Drivers may drive a maximum of 11 consecutive hours after being off duty for 10 consecutive hours
  • Drivers are precluded from driving beyond 14 hours after going off duty for 10 consecutive hours
  • Drivers are limited to 60 hours on duty in one week or 70 hours on duty for eight days running.




The safety regulations are very clear that trucking companies must not ignore the problem of driving restriction violations or fatigued driving. Trucking companies have a responsibility to ensure their drivers are fit and safe on the roadways.




The best way to protect yourself from a big rig driver who may be fatigued is to be very careful about your placement around a tractor-trailer. Here are a few tips for safe driving around big rigs


  • Be careful placing your vehicle around blind spots or directly in front of or behind a big truck. If you can safely maneuver away from the immediate vicinity of a big rig consider doing so.
  • If the truck is moving erratically or swerving into other lanes this may be a fatigued driver and it may be best for you to follow at a safe distance behind or pass the truck to get out of the danger zone.
  • Always avoid speeding and followed the rules of the road


If you’ve been injured in an 18-wheeler truck accident and believe that the trucker was fatigued or was responsible for the crash is important to learn your rights and options as soon as possible after the accident. The more seriously accident the more important and early investigation may be to protect your rights and interests.


Contacting an experienced 18-wheeler accident attorney in Houston, TX is a good first step. Call us for a FREE No Obligation Consultation.


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About Greg Baumgartner

Truck accident lawyer Greg Baumgartner
Greg Baumgartner is a preeminent rated personal injury lawyer based in Houston, Texas, with over three decades of experience representing severely injured clients in truck accidents. He founded Baumgartner Law Firm, in 1985, with a mission to provide excellent legal representation and personalized attention to every client.