How often is truck driver fatigue responsible for major wrecks?

by | Dec 1, 2022 | truck accidents

If you have ever driven on an interstate road trip, you likely know how hypnotic driving on the highway can become. Even after as little as half an hour, some drivers will start to feel drowsy due to driving in a relatively straight line and not needing to perform any other major maneuvers.

Road hypnosis is even more dangerous when a driver already feels tired. The longer someone has been on the road, the more likely they are to have fatigue-related performance issues. Exhaustion in drivers will compromise their decision-making ability, increase their reaction time and put them at risk of falling asleep at the wheel.

Commercial truck drivers often spend the better part of a day on the road. How often is fatigue a contributing factor to crashes involving commercial vehicles?

Fatigue is a top cause of commercial wrecks

Unlike chemical intoxication or phone use, it is relatively difficult to conclusively prove that someone felt tired at the wheel. While mobile phone records and chemical tests can show other forms of impairment at the wheel, exhaustion is difficult to prove unless someone admits how they felt before a crash.

Despite the likelihood of underreporting because of drivers trying to avoid responsibility for crashes, statistics still show that fatigue among commercial drivers is a major risk factor. Roughly 13% of commercial vehicle collisions involved a professional driver who admitted feeling tired prior to the crash. The true number could potentially be higher than that, but at least slightly more than one in 10 trucking crashes relates to driver fatigue.

You can’t avoid fatigued drivers

The unfortunate truth is that you have no way to know whether the commercial driver immediately in front of you on the road is about to fall asleep at the wheel.

Despite federal Hours of Service rules that help reduce how long truckers can be on the road, many of them will drive the maximum amount permissible in a given day and will have personal responsibilities to handle after work. They may suffer from increasing fatigue due to long shifts and unforgiving schedules that eventually culminates in a collision.

Learning more about common reasons that commercial trucking crashes occur can help those who want to avoid a crash or seek justice after one.