There is no way to estimate with accuracy how often driver fatigue causes truck accidents. While studies suggest that thousands of accidents each year happen due to fatigue among commercial drivers, it can be difficult to determine whether a crash involved fatigue or not.
There is no question that fatigue is an issue with commercial drivers. The federal government regulates the amount of time a driver can remain on the road without a rest break. An attorney from our firm could investigate the cause of a truck accident to determine if fatigue played a role.
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The Rate of Truck Accidents Caused by Fatigue
There is little doubt that fatigue plays a substantial role in motor vehicle accidents in general. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2017, 91,000 accidents resulting from fatigue occurred in the United States alone. Of these accidents, 50,000 serious injuries and 800 fatalities occurred.
These figures apply to all motor vehicles, but there have also been studies that evaluate the impact of fatigued driving specifically on commercial truck operators. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), research indicates that at least 1.5 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States result from truck driver fatigue.
The research also includes a major caveat, however. It is not always clear when fatigue is involved in a crash. In many situations, the police will never detect fatigue as an issue if the truck operator involved in the accident fails to admit as much. Due to how difficult it is to pinpoint fatigue among truck operators, the study suggests the percentage of fatalities could be much higher.
Several Factors Can Cause a Truck Accident
It is also worth noting that many accidents result from a combination of multiple factors. Even if only 1.5 percent of all fatalities were the result of truck driver fatigue, the percentage of accidents where fatigue contributed could be much higher.
The NCBI study also reviewed that possibility. After evaluating a series of studies on truck accidents, it concluded the fatigue was associated with at least 13 percent of all commercial truck accidents.
It is difficult to know what to take away from that statistic. According to the research, these accidents all involved at least one truck driver that was fatigued at the time. However, there is nothing directly linking that fatigue as the cause of the crash.
The Dangers of Fatigue
Fatigue is dangerous for all drivers but is especially problematic for commercial truck operators. Fatigue can impact a driver in the following ways:
- Reduce reaction time and reflexes
- Increase the chances of a distraction
- Impair memory
- Increase impulses and risky behavior
- Impair balance
- Impair judgment
Many of the hazards associated with driving while fatigued are the same as those that impact intoxicated drivers.
The Causes of Fatigue Among Truck Drivers
Fatigue can impact any motorist whether they are licensed to operate a commercial vehicle. Certain factors also increase the likelihood of fatigue. Some of those factors include:
- Illness. There are a variety of illnesses that can lead to fatigue.
- Medication. Certain medications—both over the counter and prescription—have the potential to make a driver drowsy.
- Intoxication. Intoxicated from drugs or alcohol could lead to fatigue.
- Hours Awake. The longer a person remains awake behind the wheel, the more fatigue will be a factor.
- Keeping unusual hours. Drivers that are typically awake during the day could be fatigued at night even if they have had ample sleep.
- Lack of sleep. The lack of sleep—and sleep disorders in general—are some of the most common causes of fatigue.
That said, there are regulations regarding the number of rest breaks a truck driver must take every day and week for a reason. Many commercial truckers would prefer to push through with longer hours if it meant getting home sooner or completing a load on time.
The problem with pushing the limits of exhaustion is that it greatly increases the chance of an accident. Drivers that ignore hours of operation regulations are more likely to find themselves involved in a collision with another vehicle.
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Connect with Us If Fatigue Resulted in Your Truck Accident
While it is impossible to identify an exact number, driver fatigue often causes truck accidents. These accidents have the potential to lead to life-altering injuries and steep financial hardship. If you were injured in an accident with a fatigued truck driver, you could be entitled to financial compensation.
The pursuit of these cases can be difficult on your own, but our firm is prepared to help you pursue fair compensation for your injuries. We take cases on a contingency-fee basis, so you do not pay upfront or hourly costs. We only get paid if you do. To learn how the team at the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine could help, call 1-800-747-3733 right away for your free consultation.