Fatigue and driving a big rig do not mix | The Martin Law Firm
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Fatigue and driving a big rig do not mix

Like many other Houston drivers, looking out your window or rear view mirror and seeing an 18-wheeler makes you a bit nervous. These mammoth vehicles intimidate many people in small vehicles, and if they knew that the driver failed to get the proper rest before getting behind the wheel, that nervousness would turn to fear. 

At one time or another, you probably drove while physically or mentally tired, and, hopefully, you reached your destination safely. On a daily basis, most people only drive in relatively short bursts, but long-haul drivers remain behind the wheel for several hours at a time. Without proper rest, their fatigue leads to serious or even deadly accidents.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which oversees the trucking industry, fatigue contributes to a significant percentage of accidents involving semi-trucks. Many of the reasons cited for truck driver fatigue are as follows:

  • Extended work hours
  • Lack of adequate sleep
  • Strenuous work or non-work activities

These and other factors, or a combination of factors, cause a loss of focus behind the wheel. The FMCSA provides tips for truckers to ensure they remain vigilant and drive safely, but not all drivers follow the rules.

What does the FMCSA recommend?

Federal regulations require truckers to obtain a certain amount of rest and even prescribe that at least some of it be within certain hours. Additionally, the FMCSA offers truckers the following tips:

  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Nap when needed.
  • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness.
  • Recognize drowsiness signals and dangers.
  • "Alertness tricks" (caffeine, nicotine, loud music, etc.) are untrustworthy

Many of these suggestions seem like common sense, but many truckers fail to follow them. Drowsiness sneaks up on truck drivers just as it does anyone else. Unfortunately, because they drive for a living, they jeopardize their lives and the lives of others on the road without adequate rest.

Help is available if an accident caused by a drowsy truck driver injured you or a loved one.

Not coincidentally, the recommendations of the FMCSA often coincide with factors attorneys search for when investigating the cause of a truck accident. If the evidence points to the fact that the driver failed to remain alert and awake while driving, it helps establish negligence in a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

When you suffer serious injuries or lose a loved one in a truck accident, any evidence of the trucker's fatigue could disappear quickly. Beginning an independent investigation into the crash as soon as possible provides an opportunity to gather such evidence before that occurs.

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