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Signs of Truck Driver Fatigue

June 2, 2022 Personal injury

Truck accidents are often catastrophic, and sadly, many of them are preventable. Due to long work hours, commercial truck drivers are at a particularly high risk of driver fatigue, which is responsible for more than 90,000 accidents each year and nearly 800 deaths. As a result, it is critical to your safety to be aware of the signs of truck driver fatigue.  

The Warning Signs of Truck Driver Fatigue

Watch for the following warnings signs to help you recognize a truck driver who is fatigued:

  • Repeated yawning
  • Head bobbing or trouble keeping head up
  • The inability to keep their eyes open or nodding in and out
  • Drifting into another lane or onto the shoulder of the road
  • Erratic accelerating
  • Speeding
  • Ignoring traffic signs or signals
  • Swerving or jerking movements
  • Tailgating other vehicles
  • Braking frequently or abruptly
  • Not focusing or paying attention to the road

Tired drivers are not safe drivers, which means everyone else on the road is at risk. Fatigue can cause a truck driver to get distracted more easily, fail to observe obstacles on the road, under or overreact to road conditions, and in the worst situations, fall asleep. 

Causes of Truck Driver Fatigue

Truck driver fatigue most often happens when a driver continues working through required rest breaks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has hours of service (HOS) regulations that stipulate how many consecutive hours a truck driver may drive before they must take a mandatory break. However, these rules are often ignored because of tight deadlines. The FMCSA’s HOS regulations are as follows: 

  • Cannot drive more than 11 hours.
  • Cannot drive & be on duty for more than 14 consecutive hours. Once the 14 hours are reached, the driver must take a 10 consecutive hour break. 
  • Drivers can only be on duty for a maximum of 60 hours in one seven-day period or 70 hours in 8 days.
  • Must take a 30-minute break per 8 hours of driving.
  • Drivers must spend at least 7 hours in a sleeper berth and another 3 hours off duty, either in or out of the sleeper berth.

Complying with these rules is the truck driver’s responsibility, but also their company’s. If an accident were to occur because of a violation, the truck driver and their employer might be liable. 

What to Do if You Believe Your Accident Is Caused by Truck Driver Fatigue

To ensure a fatigued truck driver is held accountable for your accident, there are critical steps you must take: 

  • Try to remain calm, call 911 and remain at the scene.
  • Let the police officer know that you believe the truck driver was fatigued. 
  • If you are not immediately transported to the hospital, take photos or videos of the scene, the damage, the surrounding area, and your injuries.
  • Never discuss or admit fault.
  • Ask the truck driver for their contact and insurance information, truck number, and the name of the company they work for.
  • Speak to any eyewitnesses and ask for their contact information.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible. 

Lastly, speak to a San Diego truck accident lawyer for legal advice and assistance with proving the truck driver was fatigued to ensure you recover fair compensation.