The Dangers of Truck Driver Exhaustion

Truck drivers are responsible for transporting large amounts of material all over the country and throughout Tennessee. The vehicles they operate are large and can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Because of the danger that these vehicles pose, and the risk of serious injuries to others in the event a crash occurs, there are regulations in place to prevent a truck driver from becoming fatigued behind the wheel. If you were injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, contact the Nashville truck accident lawyers at Larry R. Williams, PLLC.

What are the hours of service regulations?

If left to their own devices, many truck drivers and trucking companies would operate nearly around the clock in order to maximize deliveries and reduced delivery time. However, to prevent truck drivers from operating while fatigued, the FMCSA and other state agencies have implemented strict regulations about how many hours a truck driver can operate during a day and week.

  • A truck driver is allowed 11 hours of driving time during a 14-hour window each day. This window includes the time a truck driver needs for a nap and any breaks required. A 14-hour driving window begins after a driver has been off duty for ten consecutive hours.
  • If a driver has been behind the wheel for more than eight consecutive hours, they must take a 30-minute break.
  • Over the course of 7/8 days, a driver can operate no more than 60/70 driving hours. This 7/8 day period resets after a driver has taken 34 or more consecutive hours off.

The hours of service regulations are strictly enforced by state and federal agencies in order to prevent a truck driver from operating fatigued.

What other factors can cause truck driver fatigue?

The amount of hours a trucker drives each day or week is not the only thing that can influence their alertness. There are several other factors that can cause a truck driver to be fatigued behind the wheel. Under no circumstances should a truck driver operate their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Any substance that impairs a driver’s ability or causes them to become fatigued must be avoided.

It is not only illegal drugs that should be avoided while driving. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause drivers to become fatigued as well. It is vital that truck drivers understand the side effects of all medications they take so they can avoid operating while fatigued.

What are the most common truck accident injuries?

The FMCSA states that there were over 4,000 fatalities and approximately 148,000 injuries due to large truck accidents during the latest reporting year in the country. Data shows that 67% of those who were killed in large truck crashes were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles.

Injuries from these incidents can be severe. It is not uncommon for occupants of passenger vehicles to sustain the following in an incident with a large truck:

  • Traumatic brain injuries and other head injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries with possible paralysis
  • Internal organ damage and internal bleeding
  • Broken or dislocated bones
  • Severe lacerations or amputations

These injuries all require medical attention. Victims of large truck accidents often incur tremendous medical bills and other hidden expenses, including lost income if they cannot work while they recover, any necessary home or vehicle modifications to ease mobility, as well as immense emotional and psychological trauma.