Fatigued truck drivers could be more commonplace than you think

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2023 | Truck Accidents

If you’ve ever taken a drive through Texas or New Mexico, you may have noticed that semi-trucks, or tractor-trailers, are a common sight on most major roadways. Since these commercial trucks are so massive, it is normal to feel intimidated if you are driving alongside one in a smaller passenger vehicle. Tractor-trailers can weigh nearly 80,000 pounds, so if you are in an accident with one of these behemoths, it could crush your car in a split second. 

Truck drivers in the United States must undergo hours of training and obtain special licenses in order to legally operate tractor-trailers. However, ask any truck driver what it feels like to do their job and they’ll probably tell you they’ve driven fatigued on more than one occasion. In the trucking industry, driver fatigue is one of the main causes of trucking accidents. It’s common knowledge that driving drunk is dangerous, but did you know that drowsy driving can be just as risky and hazardous as drunk driving? 

The dangers of drowsy driving 

Any time you operate a motor vehicle when you are sleepy, it is drowsy driving. Drowsy driving can affect anyone, but it is especially prevalent among truckers. Truck drivers typically receive pay by mileage, so it is not uncommon for them to try and drive long distances in short periods of time. 

Obviously, falling asleep behind the wheel will usually lead to a crash. However, your reaction time and decision-making abilities are greatly impaired when you are sleep-deprived. In fact, recent studies have shown that going 24 hours without sleep has nearly the same mental impairment as having a blood alcohol content of 0.10%. Drowsy drivers are unpredictable, and thus very dangerous. 

Causes of truck driver fatigue 

One of the top causes of truck driver fatigue is simply the demands of the job. As you can imagine, driving a huge tractor-trailer for many hours at a time can be tedious. Drivers sometimes feel pressured by companies to meet deadlines so they may skip breaks or not get enough sleep. Also, truck drivers may occasionally take medication or other substances in an effort to stay awake behind the wheel, which can also impair their judgment or response time. 

How to spot a drowsy truck driver 

When you are out on the road, there are some ways to tell if you are driving near a drowsy truck driver. Just as drunk drivers do, drowsy truck drivers will often weave in and out of lanes or veer off the road. A fatigued driver may also suddenly brake, fail to use turn signals, or randomly speed up and slow down. If you notice any of these things when driving near a tractor-trailer, stay as far away from the truck as you can.  

What can you do in the aftermath of an accident? 

The actions or inaction of truck drivers cause many trucking accidents. Lack of sleep can affect us all, but when a fatigued trucker gets behind the wheel, it can lead to a catastrophic accident. You should remember that, although most truck drivers are highly trained and experienced, they are also human, and humans will make mistakes. Thankfully, there are options available if you are injured or suffer the loss of a loved one in an accident caused by a negligent truck driver.