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The very real dangers of trucker fatigue

Any fatigued driver puts everyone else on the road at risk. But when that tired driver is behind the wheel of a large semi-truck, barreling down the highways with tens of thousands of pounds of cargo in tow, the danger can increase.

It’s a reality that is painfully clear following the recent truck crash that killed an Illinois state trooper. Authorities claim the truck driver charged in the incident – who pleaded not guilty – told investigators he had been driving since 5:30 a.m., explained he had gotten off the road to take a nap earlier that day, and said he had fallen asleep while behind the wheel just before the deadly crash. This type of scenario isn’t uncommon.

Fatigue as a factor in truck crashes

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration considers fatigue to be a major factor in large truck crashes. A study by the agency found fatigue was an associated factor in about 13% of large truck crashes included In the report. In total, that amounted to about 18,000 trucks crashing because of a tired driver.

This is a known problem, and there are federal guidelines capping how long a trucker can work before taking a break.

For example, a trucker cannot drive for more than 11 hours in a 14-hour period without then taking a minimum of a 10-hour break. In addition, a trucker can not drive for more than 70 hours total in a week. Once they hit that mark, they must take at least 34 hours away before starting another job.

Crashes due to fatigue still happen

Federal rest guidelines aren’t preventing crashes due to trucker fatigue. There are a number of factors that can make someone drowsy, including:

  • Irregular work hours
  • A sleep disorders
  • A health conditions or associated medicine
  • Stressful job requirements

In addition, there have been cases in which drivers were found to have falsified their log books or were urged to do so by their employer. These decisions can have disastrous consequences, ones that result in a lifetime of pain or health care needs for those impacted by a crash.

If someone is seriously injured, they may be able to file a personal injury claim in order to recoup medical costs, and receive compensation for lost wages as well as pain and suffering. The loved ones of those seriously injured or killed in a large truck crash may be able to consider the same thing.

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