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Causes of Truck Accidents: Drowsy Driving

18-wheeler trucks and tractor trailers are large, heavy vehicles that cause serious destruction if a driver loses control. Countless car accidents occur every year, but a truck accident is often different. When a commercial truck collides with a passenger vehicle, the results can be catastrophic--even deadly.

So what causes these tragic accidents? There a number of different factors and in many cases, no one issue is responsible for the collision. It may be a combination of driver fatigue, speeding, brake issues, and a few other matters. Regardless, when these factors crop up, they often lead to serious accidents.

Sleep deprivation is a major risk that many truck drivers face on the road. Spending long hours on open stretches of road can make anyone a little tired--but doing it for a daily living is a different story.

The Impact of Fatigue on the Mind

Driving takes the full focus of a person's mind. They need to be attentive to operating their vehicle, as well as what is going on around them on the road. More than that, they must always be prepared to react in dangerous situations. When a person is tired, drowsy, or fatigued, response times wane.

A sleep-deprived driver also may deal with the following issues:

  • Sensory overload - A well-rested mind can distinguish between reality and hallucinations. When a driver doesn't have adequate rest, their brain may start to have difficulty completing regular actions (like driving) and even react to objects that aren't actually on the road.
  • Poor decision-making ability - A majority of driving is decision making. Sharp drivers can make fast decisions in order to prevent accidents down the road. When a person is sleep deprived, they tend to make riskier decisions according to research.
  • Inadequate attention span - Getting behind the wheel every day can be challenging, especially if it is your job to drive hundreds of miles across open stretches and other mundane areas. If a driver is sleep deprived, they can face impairment in visual sensory processing as a result.

Having a San Francisco truck accident lawyer after a collision can be crucial to determining the cause of your accident and whether or not a driver was fatigued or negligent in some other way.

What Are the Rules on Sleep for Truck Drivers?

The FMCSA has created regulations that are meant to keep the road and truck drivers safe. There are restrictions on how many hours a trucker can be on the road consecutively, how much rest and how many breaks they should take, and various other factors.

Some of these laws and restrictions on hours of service have been suspended (such as a mandatory 34 hour restart before a new work week) while they are examined by the Department of Transportation of their impact and effectiveness. This came after much protest from the trucking industry. In the meantime, truck drivers are under less strict rules, which may lead to an increase in driver fatigue and subsequent accidents.

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