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Understanding Truck Diver Fatigue

It’s easy to think that driving a truck professionally is an easy job, but it’s a demanding career that puts plenty of responsibility on the person behind the wheel. It’s a job that requires an individual to be up to date on all the different traffic, safety laws, and regulations to keep both the public and themselves safe.

All the pressure can toll the truck driver’s physical and mental state, resulting in growing fatigue that can lead to untimely road accidents. 

Unfortunately, truck driver fatigue has become a major issue even though the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSA) have made great strides in reducing its prevalence by implementing rules and regulations to prevent such a condition from developing in the first place. 

What is a Truck Driver Fatigue?

Truck driver fatigue results from a combination of several factors all acting together to weaken the driver physically, mentally, and emotionally. These factors include:

  • Medical and health issues (e.g. diabetes);
  • Lack of sleep (e.g. insomnia);
  • Behavioral and lifestyle issues (e.g. overworked, not enough sleep, etc.);
  • Environmental issues (e.g. noise, temperature, etc.);

Due to the nature of their work, truck drivers are at a higher risk of developing a fatigue-related accident. As they are behind the wheel for a majority of the hours, they are more distracted and stressed and, thus, easier to fall into the trap of fatigue driving.

What are the Truck Driver Regulations and Sleep Requirements?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSA), truck drivers are required to spend time off the road for a period of ten hours or more for each consecutive 24 hours (or eight hours of rest and eight hours of on-duty time). The FMCSA also states that drivers must only work a maximum of 70 hours each week.

The regulations have been put in place to promote a healthy lifestyle for drivers, reducing the negative effects of sleep deprivation and fatigue driving. However, drivers are still allowed to work longer hours in a week if the driving is done in a “non-restrictive way.” Other requirements to consider include the following:

  • Truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break after every eight hours of driving or working;
  • Truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break after working for nine hours;
  • Truck drivers are required to take a 34-hour rest period after working a week;
  • Truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break after 8 hours of driving;
  • Truck drivers are allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours a day.

The Bottom Line: Can’t a Truck Driver just Take a Nap to Deal with Fatigue?

Fatigue is a lot more complex than just a lack of sleep. In fact, about 60 percent of the truckers who are involved in a road accident are suffering from the effects of fatigue or sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can cause a truck driver to experience an increased heart rate, dry mouth, and dizziness, which may ultimately lead to an accident. 

Additionally, the body’s immune system is compromised by sleep deprivation, which means that the driver will be more susceptible to infections and viruses, leading to an accident. Since sleep deprivation is more than just a lack of sleep, it calls for more than just a nap.

The best way to deal with fatigue is to address the issue at its source. Understanding the factors that cause fatigue and putting a stop to them is the most effective way to overcome fatigue and prevent it from causing an accident.

How Can Zukerberg & Halperin Help You?

Accidents can be extremely complicated, especially if you don’t have a team of legal experts to back you up. 

If you’re looking for accident lawyers in DC, you’ve come to the right place. Zukerberg & Halperin are top-rated personal injury attorneys based in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia. We offer assistance in all serious injuries and provide free consultation and no fees unless you win. 

Learn more about how we can help you today!

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Paul Zukerberg has been a frequent legal commentator on TV and radio and is a trusted voice listeners turn to for the latest legal developments.