Tired Drivers Are Dangerous

For drivers of commercial vehicles, driver fatigue is an occupational hazard which has been recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA). Fatigue is the result of physical or mental exertion that impairs performance. Driver fatigue may be due to a lack of adequate sleep, health issues, extended working hours, strenuous work or non-work activities or a combination of other factors.
Studies have been conducted measuring drivers’ performance when they are tired. These studies suggest that driving while fatigued impairs reaction times just as much as alcohol use. The risk involved with a fatigued driver is only amplified when introduced into the context of commercial trucking, because of the extremely large motor vehicles transporting a variety of materials.
The federal government is aware of the underlying safety issues involving commercial trucks. There are several specific rules in the FMCSR (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations) that address impaired drivers, hours of service, a driver and trucking companies, and managing truck schedules to conform with the Regulations. Every year truck crashes kill over 5,000 people and injure almost 150,000 more on the nation’s roads and highways. Large trucks are involved in multiple vehicle fatal crashes at twice the rate of passenger vehicles.
A commercial motor vehicle driver may drive a maximum of 11 hours after ten consecutive hours off duty. These hours are reduced for any driver who is carrying passengers to a maximum of ten hours after eight consecutive hours off duty. Under the current rule it permits fatigued drivers to spend 15 hours driving in a 24-hour period. There are new proposals that work/rest hours be based on a 24- hour circadian clock period instead of a 24-hour period. This would require longer rest periods for drivers.
Studies show the most consistent factor influencing driver fatigue and alertness was time of day. Night driving from midnight to dawn was associated with the worst performance. The time of day was a much better predictor of decreased driving performance than hours of service. There is no quick fix or single solution to the fatigue problem. All drivers need to insure that they obtain adequate sleep and they must be afforded an opportunity to obtain adequate sleep. If you need more information on this subject, contact Attorney Boyd B. Newton:
5447 Roswell Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30342
T: 404.593.2630
E: boyd@boydnewtonlaw.com

You can also go to www.FMCSA.gov; www.DOT.gov; or www.NHTSA.gov for more information.

Sources: www.FMCSA.gov, www.DOT.gov, and www.NHTSA.gov