Why is Driver Fatigue so Dangerous?
Safe driving requires alertness, concentration, focus, and excellent vision. These four important factors are even more important for truck drivers, who are often responsible for maneuvering vehicles that can tow loads that weigh 80,000 or more pounds.
Because of the often dangerous nature of the truck driving industry, truck drivers are required to abide by traditional traffic laws as well as regulations defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The FMCSA includes a stipulation that limits the number of hours truck drivers can spend behind the wheel before taking extended rest periods. These rest periods are vital for truck drivers to remain well-rested and alert—both of which are essential for avoiding serious accidents.
The Dangers of Truck Driver Fatigue
Fatigued and sleep-deprived drivers pose serious risks to themselves and other motorists due to a number of factors, including:
- Impaired judgment
Mental fatigue and lack of rest can cause drivers to make poor decisions due to impaired function in the part of the brain responsible for judgment and decision-making abilities. This can cause drivers to make erratic and dangerous maneuvers without fully thinking of the consequences. When truck drivers make serious mistakes caused by poor judgment, the outcomes can be life-threatening and even fatal for themselves and other drivers on the roadway.
- Blurry vision
Driving for hours on end can cause truck drivers to suffer from watery eyes and a reduced ability to focus on points ahead of their vehicles on the roadway. Acute vision and the ability to see and anticipate vehicle movements in the distance are both vital traits for truck drivers, as their slowing down and stopping distances are significantly longer than traditional vehicles. Impaired vision and a lack of focus or even double vision caused by sleep deprivation are extremely dangerous symptoms for truck drivers to manage and indicate that the drivers should pull over and rest immediately.
- Increased reaction times
Safe driving requires quick reflexes and the ability to react to things that happen in a matter of seconds. Like driving while intoxicated, drivers who get behind the wheel while sleep deprived often experience severely delayed reaction times that can limit their ability to respond to things that can cause accidents, such as other motorists switching lanes or slamming on their brakes in front of them. Because they’re incapable of the quick reflexes truck drivers need to stay safe, sleep-deprived drivers are at risk of being involved in serious accidents.
- Falling asleep at the wheel
While the three symptoms of sleep-deprivation listed above are dangerous in their own way, nothing leads to more crashes than drivers actually falling asleep behind the wheel. Falling asleep even for a brief moment can be deadly for truck drivers and other motorists, as that’s all it takes for a truck to veer off the roadway and into other lanes of traffic. The dangers of falling asleep behind the wheel are so severe that truck drivers should pull over immediately and rest as soon as they begin to feel sleepy—even if they aren’t approaching their driving limit for the day or week.
At Matt Hardin Law, our Tullahoma truck accident lawyers know that truck drivers and trucking companies often push the limits of laws and regulations to increase their profits. However, no amount of money is worth the pain, suffering, and even loss of life that can occur during serious accidents. That’s why it’s so important for truck drivers to follow the rules of the road and the FMCSA at all times.
If you or someone you love was injured in a truck accident caused by the truck driver or company’s negligence, our legal team may be able to help you get compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and vehicle repair costs. Contact us today. Just dial (615) 200-1111 or fill out a free online form.