What is driver fatigue

Truck drivers spend hours behind the wheel each day, typically covering great distances to transport goods to multiple locations. The amount of time they spend on the road leaves them highly susceptible to driver fatigue.

Yet, it’s not just working drivers who are at risk. The National Sleep Foundation, which defines driver fatigue as “the diminished ability to remain focused or alert due to sleepiness or lack of sleep”, found that 60% of drivers operate vehicles while fatigued. 

Victims can sustain serious, life-threatening injuries if they are involved in a collision due to driver fatigue. If you or a loved one have suffered an injury due to another driver’s exhaustion, contact Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath today. Our truck accident lawyers can assist you in filing a claim.


What is driver fatigue?

Fatigue happens when you don’t get enough sleep or good quality sleep. Drivers who do not get enough sleep are more likely to have an accident.

With a third of the population in the United States not getting enough sleep, there are many people on the road who are driving while exhausted. If a car crashes due to driver fatigue, it can be just as deadly as drunk driving.

In fact, it is more deadly when the driver is controlling a large truck.

You can spot driver fatigue by checking for the following signs:

  • Yawning
  • Blinking frequently
  • Weaving or drifting across the road
  • Missing exits or traffic signs
  • Trouble keeping eyes open
  • Rubbing your eyes at the wheel
  • Having trouble remembering the past few miles driven
  • Almost falling asleep at the wheel (also called microsleep)


What causes driver fatigue?

Driver fatigue can be caused by the following:

  • Not getting enough sleep over multiple days.
  • The time of day. The urge to sleep is at its most intense between the hours of 6 and 10 am, especially if you’ve had little or no sleep recently.
  • Monotonous tasks for extended periods, such as driving along highways.
  • Sleep disorders or medicines that cause drowsiness.
  • Stress and anxiety. These prevent sound, restorative sleep that is needed for your body to function properly.
  • Drivers who abuse substances are likely to have reduced ability to remain focused on the primary task of driving. 
  • Stomach pain or indigestion that causes discomfort may lead to sleep-related issues. 
  • If a driver does not take prescribed breaks or is forced to work through them, they may get drowsy due to mental exhaustion.


Truck Driver Negligence

Whether you are behind the wheel of a car or driving a large commercial vehicle, driving while fatigued can have deadly consequences. But a truck driver who operates a large commercial vehicle is held to a different standard than a regular driver.

From trucks that move hazardous or flammable materials to trucks that have trailers filled with thousands of pounds of cargo, commercial drivers must meet certain standards.

When a truck driver is not fully aware of their surroundings, the consequences can be disastrous. The large size of trucks means that any collision is more likely to be fatal for the vehicle they hit.

When a driver is overworked, either through too many hours on the road or erratic driving schedules, there can be a significant increase in truck accidents from negligent driving.


What are the effects of driver fatigue?

Drowsiness lowers reaction times, leads to poor decision-making, and can lead to drivers nodding off behind the wheel. Drivers may experience tunnel vision, microsleeps, or have no memory of driving their route.

Fatigued drivers are more likely to cause serious, fatal collisions. When a driver falls asleep behind the wheel and drifts into another lane, they can cause a front-end collision, one of the most deadly types of accidents.

When trucks hit motorcycles, they often weigh more than both riders combined. All it takes is a moment of distraction due to their fatigue or a second of microsleep for a truck driver to take someone’s life.


How to Avoid Driving While Fatigued

Employers must ensure that their drivers are taking breaks and resting on schedule. They can also evaluate their practices to ensure that they are not pressuring drivers, knowingly or unknowingly, to drive while exhausted.

Drivers can make sure that they get enough sleep the night before their shift and learn to recognize when they are becoming fatigued. A driver should be able to recognize impending tiredness by confusion, irritability, and a wandering mind.

Drivers need a good work/life balance to promote sleeping soundly every night and staying alert behind the wheel. If they do not take adequate breaks, refuse to acknowledge when they are tired, or try to self-medicate with caffeine, they can put others in serious danger.


Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer

If you have suffered an injury due to a fatigued truck driver, contact Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath today for assistance. Our Florida truck accident lawyers will work to get you the maximum amount of compensation needed to move forward from your accident.

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