Signs of Truck Driver Fatigue

June 30, 2022 Posted In Truck Accidents

Truck drivers must often work long hours and drive while tired, putting them at a significantly high risk of being involved in an accident. Collisions caused by truck driver fatigue can be catastrophic. As a result, it is critical to know and be aware of any signs that a truck driver is tired when you are sharing the road. If you are involved in a serious accident, contact our San Bernardino truck accident lawyers.

What to Look Out For

Look out for the following warnings signs that a truck driver is fatigued:

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

Everyone else is put at risk when a tired truck diver is on the road. Fatigue can cause a driver to miss obstacles on the road, under or overreact to road conditions, get distracted easily and, worst of all, fall completely asleep. 

Causes of Truck Driver Fatigue

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), responsible for regulating the trucking industry, has hours of service (HOS) regulations. These laws stipulate the number of consecutive hours a truck driver can drive before they must take a break. However, truck drivers often continue driving to meet their tight deadlines on shipments. The FMCSA’s HOS regulations are as follows: 

  • Truck drivers can work 14 hours of a 24-hour period but can drive no more than 10 of those hours in total.
  • Truck drivers cannot drive longer than 8 consecutive hours without taking a 30-minute break. 
  • Drivers can only be on duty for a maximum of 60 hours in one seven-day period or 70 hours in 8 days.
  • 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.

Other factors that can cause truck driver fatigue include poor sleep quality, an unhealthy diet, certain medications, alchohol, and highway hypnosis. High hypnosis can occur when truck drivers are on open highways for extended periods. 

What to Do if You See a Tired Truck Driver

If you happen to notice a fatigued truck driver on the road, you can do the following:

Immediate Danger

  • If you believe the truck driver is an immediate danger to others on the road, pull over and call 911. 
  • Be prepared to give a description of the truck, including any logos or the company name if you saw it, and the license plate. 
  • Law enforcement will attempt to track down the truck and get a sense of the situation. 
  • Do not follow the truck if you believe you are in danger, and take another route to your destination if possible. 

Not in Immediate Danger

  • If you are concerned about a truck driver’s alertness but do not necessarily feel they are a danger to others, your other option is to file a complaint. 

An FMCSA complaint can be filed online or by calling 888-DOT-SAFT within 90 days. It will be investigated, and if they discover any hours-of-service violations, the truck driver or company can face hefty fines and possibly license suspension.

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