One of the main causes of fatal truck wrecks on U.S. roadways is driver fatigue. When big riggers push themselves beyond their physical capacity, the results can often be fatal truck crashes. Although there are federal hours of operation rules in place and drivers are expected to avoid working when they are tired, many still burn the candle at both ends just to meet deadlines.
In many cases, the reason stems from pressure from employers to make deliveries as quickly as possible. In these situations, drivers pushing their limits are much more likely to cause fatal truck accidents.
Driver Fatigue and Fatal Truck Wrecks
Fatigue is one of the main causes of driver distraction, a leading cause of fatal truck crashes. If you are a driver and over-tired, your attention span shrinks, your cognitive ability decline, and your motor reflexes also slow considerably. Research on this topic suggests that fatigued semi operators are 40% more likely to be involved in fatal truck wrecks due to reduced performance.
Based on these significant statistics, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) restricts operator hours and encourages you, as a driver, to get enough rest to avoid the possibility of driving while fatigued.
Hours-of-Service Laws and Fatigue
According to current FMCSA hours-of-service regulations, semi operators are restricted in how many hours they can drive in a day, week, and work period. The purpose of these laws is to discourage operators from staying on the road when they are fatigued and more likely to cause fatal truck accidents.
Unfortunately as a big rig operator, there are a number of factors that can work against you, even if you try to follow hours-of-service laws. This can include heavy work schedules as well as the fact that fatigue can affect every operator differently.
When you add these things to the current driver shortage that is affecting the industry as well as pressure from some employers to meet deadlines, it is easy to see why many operators will end up on the road even when they are fatigued.
Fatigued Operators - Pressure to Keep Going
The shipping industry is one that values speed in getting deliveries made as quickly as possible. Although hours-of-service laws are in effect to reduce fatal truck wrecks, many operators feel pressured by their employers to stay out on the road to keep shipments moving.
Operators avoid taking much-needed breaks in order to stick to schedules, with many risking a breach in hours-of-service regulations by driving more hours than they are legally permitted. This directly increases the possibility of fatal truck accidents.
Protection From Repercussions
The FMCSA has laws in place to protect operators from any kind of repercussion they could face from their employer for missed deadlines due to necessary rest breaks. Despite this, some operators are reluctant to use this protection or even report employers who attempt to coerce them into working longer hours in fear of retribution. This has created a situation where as an operator, you need to rest but keep going anyway to meet your employer's deadlines, thereby increasing your risk of fatal truck crashes.
In response to the pressure that many operators face, the FMCSA now offers drivers the ability to report companies anonymously. Still, many drivers avoid doing this because they fear they will lose their jobs somehow.
The problem of driver fatigue and its significant contribution to fatal truck wrecks is one with multiple factors to consider. Operator compliance with hours-of-service regulations is an important concern; however, there is more to the current lack of compliance than it may seem. Commercial carrier companies who pressure employees to stay on the road, forcing them to decide between rest breaks and potentially causing fatal truck crashes, are a significant part of the problem.
To achieve the biggest reduction in fatal truck accidents caused by fatigue, you and your company must observe federal hours-of-service laws and recognize your individual need as a driver to rest when you are fatigued!
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 410-5810