Driver fatigue is a contributing factor in a large portion of big rig accidents, an estimated 40%. The slightest error or delay in reaction time can cause a large truck to crash. Even the most skilled and experienced driver has a slower reaction time, pays less attention to detail, and has impaired judgment when tired. Driver fatigue has no simple solution. Many factors involved in truck driving contribute to fatigue. Determining the underlying cause of driver fatigue in your tractor trailer accident can help identify the responsible party or parties in your case.
Common Causes of Driver Fatigue Leading To Big Rig Accidents
Long hours of driving can cause driver fatigue, but a complex combination of conditions and requirements placed on drivers is usually at work when fatigue becomes a real problem. Common causes of truck driver fatigue include:
- Irregular schedules
- Parking in noisy or dangerous areas when trying to sleep
- Night driving
- Monotonous driving
- Hot weather
- Poor visibility or stressful driving conditions due to weather
- Heavy traffic
- Loading and unloading trucks in between driving
- Unrealistic schedules
- Poor eating habits
- Problems at home
- Sleep disorders
- Health problems
Hours of Service Law, Unrealistic Schedules, and Sleep Deprivation
Federal trucking laws called Hours of Service (HOS) regulations dictate strict limitations on how long a truck driver can be on duty and behind the wheel at one stretch, in one day, and over the course of a week, as well as how many consecutive hours they must take off in between. The goal of HOS regulations is to reduce truck driver fatigue, but it does not always work.
Trucking companies are notorious for requiring their drivers to meet unrealistic schedules. Some even encourage their drivers to break HOS laws and falsify log book entries to meet these schedules.
Drivers who strictly obey HOS rules still suffer from sleep deprivation. Most people cannot simply go to sleep on command. The HOS rules dictate when a truck driver must be off duty, but that does not always mean that sleep is possible during that time. Because the rules are so rigid, they can actually discourage truck drivers from stopping to sleep when they really need it.
Problems Secondary to Driver Fatigue
In order to fight fatigue while maintaining trucking companies’ schedules and staying within HOS regulations, many drivers self-medicate. This can mean using legal or illegal substances to help them stay awake while driving, help them sleep during their time off, or both.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a tractor trailer accident in Florida, please contact experienced Orlando area truck accident attorneys David Best, P.A. today to find out how we can help you and your family get back on your feet.