Commercial drivers have demanding jobs. While almost all adults feel comfortable driving, most people hit a point after which they start to notice fatigue. After an hour or two at the wheel, possibly less at certain times of day or on very monotonous stretches of highway, drivers will start to notice sleepiness and fatigue that will affect their ability to be safe to deal.
Drowsiness can affect the human brain much like alcohol, increasing reaction time and impairing decision-making ability. It can also lead to people falling asleep at the wheel. Those who drive commercial vehicles professionally may be at elevated risk for fatigued or drowsy driving because of their long days that may last 10 hours or even more.
The laws don’t necessarily consider other demands on someone’s time
The federal government has Hours of Service rules that apply to most commercial drivers. The rules are different depending on whether the driver has passengers or their primary purpose is to transport products.
In both cases, there are limits on how long they can drive overall in a day, how long they can drive without breaks and how many hours they can drive in a week. However, many drivers can comply with those rules and still be utterly exhausted at the wheel.
The amount of time they can spend driving their vehicle does not factor in how long they take to commute to and from the place where they work or any family and home maintenance obligations they may have between their shifts.
Truck drivers may try to stave off their feelings of fatigue by drinking coffee or taking stimulant pills, but caffeine does not replace rest. The combination of extreme fatigue and caffeine could be dangerous in some cases.
What are your rights after a commercial crash?
If a truck driver caused a collision with you because they were too tired to stay awake or to properly control their vehicle, you may have grounds for an insurance claim. Sometimes, if insurance won’t fully cover your costs, you may also have grounds for a civil lawsuit against the driver or possibly their employer.
Knowing your risks for and rights after a commercial trucking crash can keep you safer on your next drive.