More than 100,000 truck accidents occur annually nationwide. Thirty percent of these accidents are fatal. While there are several contributors to truck accidents, truck driver fatigue is a common cause of collisions. When commercial truck drivers are fatigued from working long hours, they increase the chance of truck accidents.
Truck Driver Fatigue
Because of unique schedules, truck drivers often suffer from sleep deprivation, disruptive sleep cycles, and extreme fatigue. Federal laws are in place to regulate the number of hours that truck drivers are legally allowed to be behind the wheel of their trucks. These laws are called Hours of Service Regulations and are rules designed to keep our nation’s roadways safe by reducing truck driver fatigue. These regulations provide appropriate hours and times when commercial vehicles may be operated. However, these laws are suspended until September 2015. The laws are suspended so the Department of Transportation may complete a study comparing the 2003 version of regulations with the 2013 version of regulations.
Truck driver fatigue is common because many trucking companies pay drivers according to the number of miles driven and how soon drivers arrive at their destinations. In other words, the more miles they drive, the more they are paid. Many drivers will ignore safety regulations in order to be paid more. Unfortunately, truck drivers who decide to ignore regulations and to continue driving for more than 8 hours are more likely to be involved in a truck accident. Sometimes drivers will even falsify driving logs by claiming to drive less hours than actual hours driven.
Onboard recorders can assist in making sure truck drivers follow the rules of the road. Approximately 45 percent of truck drivers interviewed in 2005 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that their trucks were equipped with onboard recorders; however, only 10 percent of these drivers reported using the recorders instead of paper logbooks to record hours and miles driven.
Other truck accident causes include negligent truck driver hiring, improper vehicle maintenance, truck overloading, incorrectly securing the truck’s load, and a truck driver operating the commercial rig under the influence of drugs or alcohol.