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How Can Truck Driver Fatigue Cause Accidents?

Posted on July 13, 2022

Driver fatigue is the most common reason for accidents on roads and highways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 600 deaths in 2019 occurred due to drowsy driving. Truck drivers are tired and fatigued since they spend long hours on the road.

Fatigue can lead slow their response on the road, impair judgment, and contribute to other issues that can lead to an accident. There are cases where truck drivers fall asleep behind the wheel, leading to fatal accidents.

How Can Driver Fatigue Cause an Accident?

If a truck driver feels fatigued, it can affect their ability to drive. Since large-scale vehicles such as trucks require focus when driving, truck drivers might struggle to focus on the road.

Losing control of heavy vehicles like trucks can lead to very serious accidents, since the excess load they’re carrying could make the truck tip over. Therefore, there is a chance that the driver can cause an accident when switching lanes or accelerating.

If a driver falls asleep while driving, they might collide with other vehicles, trees, or poles, endangering people’s lives. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) report shows that driver fatigue is a significant contributor to road accidents involving trucks.

Rules and Regulations Truck Drivers Have to Follow

The FMCSA has set clear rules and regulations to ensure that truck drivers don’t feel fatigued when they’r driving. Here are the rules that the truck drivers need to follow:

  • Truck drivers should rest for 30 minutes after driving for eight hours
  • The driver should sleep for seven hours when taking a ten hour break
  • Drivers should only operate the vehicle for 14 hours in a single period

Causes of Driver Fatigue

Different factors can contribute to driver fatigue. Usually, drivers don’t get adequate sleep, which makes them feel tired.

Since drivers who drive on the highway consider it a tedious task, they’re likely to lose concentration and focus. Here are some common factors that could result in driver fatigue.

Untreated Sleep Disorders

Drivers with insomnia, sleep apnea, or other sleeping disorders are also prone to fatigue. They can fall asleep or might not focus when driving their truck on the highway.


Another possible reason for fatigue is over-the-counter medications, which can make truckers feel dizzy. Most medications specifically suggest individuals operating heavy vehicles on the road should not take a dose before driving.

Driving During Drowsy Hours

Throughout the day, there are certain hours when the body becomes naturally tired. According to the FMCSA, the hours between 2 PM and 4 PM and 12 AM and 6 AM are when the body will feel naturally drowsy, making it difficult to operate a vehicle.

Tight Schedule

Truck drivers often work on tight schedules and have to drive for 12 to 14 hours without breaks to meet deadlines. Therefore, it increases the chance of driver fatigue, which can cause a collision.

Dealing with an Accident Caused by Drowsy Driver

Accidents can cause severe damage, resulting in physical injuries, financial loss, and emotional trauma. You can seek compensation for your loss by proving that the collision was a result of driver fatigue and negligence. So, if you or your loved ones have been involved in an accident because of a drowsy driver, you should consult with a Birmingham truck accident attorney today.