Truck Driver Fatigue and 18 Wheeler Accidents

The Federal Highway Administration Office of Motor Carriers conducted several research projects on truck driver fatigue and traffic accidents over a four year period. Several entities related to the trucking industry and the FHWA OMC commissioned the Driver Fatigue and Alertness Study that was performed by the Essex Corporation. Results of the Driver Fatigue and Alertness Study The DFAS revealed several alarming findings, including the following:

  • Drivers were least likely to be alert between midnight and 6:00 a.m.
  • Drivers slept an average of five hours during their main sleep periods when about seven hours is optimal
  • Drivers were found to be unable to accurately assess their own levels of alertness
  • Different drivers were found to be operating under different levels of alertness

The Fitness-for-Duty Test In 1994, the trucking industry developed testing that would help to identify people who would be too impaired to drive, and one of them was the fitness-for-duty test. The test was performed before drivers initiated their shifts and at different intervals after their shifts had begun. Researchers found that it would be possible to test drivers via computer and accurately identify those who are too fatigued to drive. The Need for Commercial Motor Vehicle Rest Areas Another study sought to discover if an increased number of private and public rest areas were needed across the country and this was found to be the case. Researchers learned that there were not enough rest areas that were devoted to commercial truck drivers, their vehicles and their specialized needs. However, they did find that private owners were seeking ways to meet the unique needs of commercial trucks and their drivers. For example, the results of this study encouraged weigh station owners to allow truck drivers to use closed weigh stations as rest areas. The Number One Problem in the Trucking Industry While these research studies were being conducted, the Federal Highway Administration determined that driver fatigue was the number one safety problem that the trucking industry was facing. According to NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman, the industry must do more than just update regulations. It must ensure that everyone follows the rules and educates and trains their drivers with fatigue risk-management programs. However, she finds that truck drivers are continuing to violate the hours of service regulations. Other Disturbing Findings A survey conducted by Abrams, Schultz and Wylie found that truck drivers who were forced to remain in an awakened state for 17 hours were as impaired as drivers who had a .04 percent blood alcohol level. These drivers also had response times that were 50 percent slower than drivers who were perfectly alert. Drivers who have been awake for 21 hours were determined to be as impaired as someone with a 0.1 percent blood alcohol level. The Problem Continues Although several extensive research projects were conducted on this issue and the industry sought ways to address the problem of driver fatigue, it continues to be an issue today. In 2012, the Oregon Department of Transportation found that more than 25 percent of truck drivers had not had sufficient sleep. Specifically, these drivers spent more time on the road than they were legally allowed to spend, or they did not have enough rest before they set out on the road. If You Have Been The Victim Of An 18 Wheeler Accident in Texas If you have been hit by an 18-wheeler in Texas, you need to contact an 18 wheeler accident attorney as soon as possible. Texas truck accident lawyers are prepared to fight the trucking companies to ensure that you are compensated monetarily for the injuries you have suffered. It is intolerable that you have been seriously injured because of the negligence of others. Hire a truck accident attorney to protect your rights.