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Truck Driver Fatigue and Accidents

January 8, 2024

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one in 25 adult drivers report having fallen asleep while driving, and many more admit to driving when they were sleep-deprived. These stark figures show the prevalence of drowsy driving. What drivers may not know is the risk that drowsy driving puts them – and others. An estimated 6,400 people die annually in crashes involving drowsy driving, according to the National Sleep Foundation. This risk is amplified when semi trucks are involved. Plus, commercial truck drivers are much more likely to drive drowsy or fatigued than other drivers, according to the CDC.

The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) reported that 13% of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers were considered to have been fatigued at the time of their crash. Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years! In addition, research from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows that 65% of truck drivers say that they frequently feel drowsy while driving and nearly 50% of truck drivers admit that they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year!

The Impact of Drowsiness on Driving

Driving while drowsy has similar effects as driving under influence of alcohol. A driver’s reaction times, awareness of hazards, and the ability to sustain attention all are worse as the driver becomes more drowsy. Moreover, driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is the same as driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08% – the U.S. legal limit.

In fact, a truck driver might not even realize that he or she is tired because the signs of fatigue are hard to identify. Some drivers may also experience micro-sleep, which is a short, involuntary period of inattention. In the four or five seconds when a driver experiences micro-sleep at highway speed, the big rig will travel the length of a football field. That’s more then enough time to cause a serious accident.

If a truck driver doesn’t get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler, it can dramatically impact their cognitive and physical function. The CDC says that not only does it increase a driver’s odds chances of falling asleep while driving, but it can do the following:

  • Result in slower reaction times;
  • Lead to poor decision-making;
  • Create “tunnel vision”;
  • Increase forgetfulness, including the number of miles the driver has traveled; and
  • Cause drifting into other lanes.

In addition, when a truck driver is fatigued, the effect can be even more significant because of the size and weight of the tractor-trailer.

Research shows that truck drivers average less than five hours of sleep per night, and the CDC recommends seven to nine hours for adults. Plus, more than a quarter of truck drivers suffer from insomnia. So, you can see that truck driver fatigue is a real problem.

Speak with an Experienced Michigan Personal Injury Attorney

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that about 8,000 of all truck accidents each year are because of a fatigued truck driver. With Michigan traffic crashes increasing, there is a good chance that you or a family member will be involved in an auto accident, and it may involve a tractor trailer. You need a dependable Grand Rapids motor vehicle accident attorney who understands Michigan personal injury law and has years of experience with commercial vehicle accidents. We can get you the compensation you deserve.

For a free consultation with an experience auto accident attorney in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm. Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids and Detroit, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after hours, at home, or in the hospital to accommodate you.