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What Is Driver Fatigue And How Is It Managed?

Driver fatigue is about more than just feeling tired. It's actually a mental state of exhaustion which can reduce a person's ability to perform efficiently and safely. Driver fatigue not only happens to commercial drivers, but to anyone who is behind the wheel for long periods of time. Driver fatigue happens when a person lacks sleep, has trouble sleeping, or their internal clock is disrupted.

Why is Driver Fatigue An Issue?

Driver fatigue can reduce alertness which can lead to severe or even deadly consequences to yourself or others on the roadways. Not only can it reduce alertness and concentration and possibly cause drivers to fall asleep at the wheel or not have proper coordination while driving, but it can cause reduced headaches, yawning, drowsiness, and unexpected behavioral changes, fatigue can also cause health issues such as HBL or anxiety.

Essentially, it's the driver's responsibility to make sure they get enough uninterrupted sleep. In the end, the driver's employer is considered just as reliable -- if not more -- than the driver. If they see signs that a driver is fatigued and allow them to drive on the road anyway, and the driver gets into an accident and hurts someone - or worse, the driver, as well as the trucking company, would be held reliable.

It would be nice to think that all trucking companies would want to keep their drivers and other people on the road safe. But, with deadlines approaching quickly and drivers needing to get shipments from point A to point B under a certain amount of time, or with drivers calling off, incentives being paid for OT, etc the trucking companies don't always pull a driver off the schedule when they should.

Managing Driver Fatigue

Some companies do take driver fatigue seriously. Because of this, some of the trucking companies out there have ways to manage risk for driver fatigue.

  • - Work Schedules: Proper work schedules will follow the compliance that organizations like the FMCSA have put into place. This means resting when they should be resting, sleeping X amount of hours a night, and only driving up to 70 hours a week.
  • - Review Workplace Accidents: Companies are supposed to keep track of accidents; from fender benders to more serious accidents. When they review these accidents they keep track of who was in the accident, what time the accident occurred, where the accident happened, did more of the accidents happen at night or during the day, etc. These reviews allow the trucking company to schedule better times that are more optimal for driving conditions and in turn, lead to reduced accidents happening.
  • - Environmental Conditions: Trucking companies can also reduce the risk of driver fatigue by making sure their drivers work in a friendly environment. This might mean putting them up in a hotel rather than making them sleep in their trucks or making sure they have a proper place to eat, rest, get coffee, and possibly paying for it.

While all this sounds simple enough, there are still trucking companies that don't follow regulations. Or they have drivers that want to get bonuses for delivering on-time and choose not to follow the regulations put into place.

If you were on the road and were in an accident with any type of a commercial truck, from a big wheeler to a government delivery truck or any other type of "truck", you could be compensated for your injuries, lost wages, pain, and suffering and more.

For a free consultation or to learn about your legal rights contact Welmaker Law at 800-494-1916.