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You might be on the road with a fatigued trucker

On Behalf of | Dec 27, 2017 | blog, Firm News

Being on the roads with semitrucks is something that most people do daily without ever thinking about it. But, have you thought about how much of a danger these large trucks can pose?

There are many different hazards that can lead to truckers causing an accident. One of these is fatigue. When you think about the hours that truckers drive, it is easy to see how fatigue can be a contributing factor to many crashes.

Many causes of fatigue

The hours that a trucker works is only one part of the equation when it comes to fatigue. Even when truckers don’t drive super long shifts, there is a chance that they aren’t getting enough sleep when they are off. They might opt to take care of errands or spend most of their off time with family members and friends. Over multiple days, the lack of sleep can accumulate, which exacerbates impacts of fatigue. This is known as sleep debt and it can’t be corrected by quick fixes like caffeine.

Other factors that can contribute to trucker fatigue include not having a regular trucking schedule, including working too early or having to drive through the night. Dealing with poor driving conditions, including driving on familiar roads, having a hot and stuffy cabin, monotonous driving or wet weather can also lead to fatigue.

Even medical conditions, such as sleep apnea or obesity, might make a trucker fatigued. Stress and emotional turmoil may also come into the picture with trucker fatigue.

Federal regulations address fatigue

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published regulations about how long truckers can drive. While there are some exceptions, these guidelines apply to the majority of truckers on the road. They are based on whether the trucker is carrying property or people.

There are a few different limits that these truckers have to think about.

  • Total daily driving limit: Property carriers can drive 11 hours per day and passenger carriers can drive 10 hours per day.
  • Total workday limit: Property carriers can’t drive beyond the 14th hour of work if non-driving duties are performed and passenger carriers can’t drive beyond the 15th hour.
  • Rolling weekly limit: Truckers can’t drive once they accumulate 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days without a 34-hour rest period to reset the rolling day tally.

A fatigued trucker poses a risk to him- or herself, as well as other people who are traveling. They might not be able to react to hazards quickly and could fail to make good decisions when they drive. In some cases, they might nod off and not have control of the heavy, large, moving vehicle.