In 2018 alone, a total of 4,136 people died in crashes involving large trucks. In this number, 16% are truck occupants, 67% were occupants of other vehicles, and 15% were pedestrians or cyclists. Truck driver fatigue is one of the top causes of truck crashes. Along with it are driving under the influence, over speeding, inadequate training, poor truck maintenance, and distracted driving.
Truck crashes due to truck driver fatigue may be common, but it is also preventable. Let us look at what it is and how we can prevent it.
What is Truck Driver Fatigue?
Truck Driver Fatigue results from the driver taking long driving hours, not having sufficient sleep, or driving while feeling ill. The combination of driving and fatigue is never safe. The risks and dangers that come with it can have fatal results.
A fatigued truck driver will likely exhibit poor driving abilities. He will pay less attention to the road and his surroundings. He will have a slower reaction time, so he may step on the brake or steer a little too late. Fatigue also affects our decision-making, and the same can be said with fatigued truck drivers.
According to the CDC, 4% of 150,000 adults had fallen asleep while driving. It can happen when the driver has not slept and rested enough, is under medication, or is working in shifts.
How to Prevent Truck Driver Fatigue?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued the Hours of Service regulations to help reduce crashes due to driver fatigue. The HOS governs the working hours of any person who operates a commercial motor vehicle with 10,001 lbs. of gross weight. It applies to city bus drivers, school bus drivers, and truck drivers.
The primary purpose of the HOS is to prevent road accidents caused by fatigue. It generally limits the driver’s working hours in a day and a week. It aims to give CMV drivers a normal sleep/wake cycle, allowing them at least a daily minimum of hours of rest. They are also allowed longer rest days to fight against the cumulative effects of fatigue.
Every CMV driver is required to maintain a logbook or an electronic logging device to keep track of his driving hours. Each page divides a 24-hour day into 15-minute segments. It must indicate each change of duty status, the name of the city or town, and the state. The date and the total miles that were driven for that day should also appear. Drivers must keep a copy of their logbooks for the past seven days for inspection.
Here are some highlights of the HOS regulations for property-carrying drivers:
- A truck driver may drive a maximum of eleven (11) hours, provided he’s had ten (10) consecutive hours of time off.
- A truck driver may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming to work, following 10-hour time off. Non-driving work activities are included in the 14-hour count.
- A truck driver may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. The 7/8 days period will refresh after at least thirty-four (34) consecutive hours of time off.
How Can Truck Drivers Avoid Fatigue
Truck drivers, or any drivers for that matter, should avoid fatigue. The FMCSA advises drivers to be well-rested, healthy, and safe by doing the following:
Get enough sleep, and avoid driving at 12 AM-6 AM and 2 PM-4 PM if possible. These are the hours when the body is naturally drowsy. The CDC advises at least 7 hours of sleep for adults.
- Maintain a healthy diet and do not skip meals. Skipping meals can also lead to fatigue.
- Pullover safely or change drivers and take a nap when you feel drowsy while on the road.
- Avoid taking medications that can make you drowsy, such as cold medicines and allergy medicines.
- Pay attention to the signals of fatigue or drowsy driving. It can include frequent yawning, blurred vision, and blinking rapidly.
- Do not depend on alertness tricks, such as drinking coffee, smoking, or turning up your radio. Pullover if you need to.
- Have you or a loved one been involved in a truck crash? Call a Michigan Truck Lawyer immediately.
Contact a Michigan Truck Accident Lawyer If You’ve Been Hurt
Truck crashes can result in severe injuries and even death and fatal truck accidents. Let the best personal injury law firm in Michigan help you. We at The Clark Law Office are known for our high-quality work, dedication, and extensive court experience. Our truck accident attorneys are equipped with in-depth knowledge of Michigan’s injury and negligence laws. Let us help you with your case so you can get the assistance and financial compensation that is due to you. Call us today.