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7 Causes of Truck Driver Fatigue That Can Lead to Truck Accidents

 Posted on September 15, 2023 in Personal Injury

Untitled---2023-09-15T123706.530.jpgAccidents involving large commercial trucks can have devastating consequences, including severe injuries and even fatalities. One of the primary causes of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Fatigued truck drivers pose a significant risk on the road, not only to themselves but also to other motorists. 

The Dangers of Fatigue for Truck Drivers

Driving a commercial truck requires immense concentration, coordination, and alertness. There are many factors can contribute to truck driver fatigue:

  • Inadequate sleep: Truck drivers often have demanding schedules that leave little time for adequate rest. Sleep deprivation affects a driver’s ability to stay focused and react quickly while on the road.

  • Long hours: Federal regulations limit the number of hours a commercial truck driver can be behind the wheel on a daily and weekly basis. However, some drivers may violate these regulations due to tight deadlines or pressure from employers. Continuing to drive past the point of exhaustion can make a driver more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel or make dangerous mistakes.

  • Night shifts: Working during nighttime disrupts natural sleep patterns, as human bodies are naturally predisposed to sleeping at night. Night-time driving increases the risk of drowsiness and reduces alertness. Drivers will also be more likely to become dangerously fatigued if they work irregular hours or have inconsistent shifts.

  • Poor sleeping conditions: Some long-haul truck drivers live out of their trucks while on duty. The lack of comfortable sleeping arrangements can lead to poor-quality sleep or difficulty falling asleep.

  • Medical conditions: Issues with a driver’s physical help can prevent them from getting proper sleep or make them more likely to become fatigued. Sleep apnea is a common concern that can lead to drowsiness, and other conditions that can lead to fatigue include diabetes, hypothyroidism, anemia, heart disease, and fibromyalgia.

  • Dehydration: If truck drivers do not drink enough water during driving shifts, they will be more likely to become fatigued.

  • Overuse of caffeine: Truck drivers may use caffeinated beverages to help stay awake or combat fatigue. While drinking coffee, soda, or energy drinks can help increase alertness, too much caffeine can actually have the opposite effect, especially when a driver experiences issues such as jitteriness or increased heart rate.

The Dangers Posed by Fatigued Truck Drivers

Fatigue impairs a person's cognitive abilities and slows down their reaction times when faced with unexpected situations on the road. For truck drivers who operate large vehicles weighing several tons, any delay in response could have catastrophic consequences. Some dangerous effects of fatigue include:

  • Distracted driving: Fatigued truck drivers are more likely to become distracted. For example, they may reach for food or drinks, use their smartphones, or engage in other activities that divert their attention from the road.

  • Reduced awareness: Extreme fatigue can impair a driver's ability to perceive hazards and react appropriately. This includes failure to notice road signs, traffic signals, or other vehicles on the road.

  • Microsleeps: Severe fatigue can lead to episodes of drowsiness in which a driver falls asleep briefly. These momentary lapses in consciousness can last just a few seconds, but this is enough time for a truck driver to lose control of their vehicle and cause an accident.

Contact Our Smithfield Truck Accident Lawyers

In North Carolina, when a truck accident occurs due to the negligence or recklessness of a fatigued truck driver, victims have legal rights. To pursue compensation after these types of accidents, people who have been injured can consult with an experienced Johnston County truck accident attorney. At Vasquez Law Firm, PLLC, we can help injury victims understand their options, and we will work with them to hold a negligent truck driver and their employer liable for their damages. Contact us today at 1-844-YO-PELEO to arrange a free consultation and get legal help following a truck accident.

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