How long can you drive before fatigue begins to set in? Have you ever fallen asleep at the wheel due to feeling tired? Around one in 25 drivers will admit to having done this.

Driving while tired can cause motor vehicle crashes and severe consequences. What about semi-truck accidents, though? Even with work regulations, does fatigue still come into play as a professional driver?

The answer is a resounding yes. On average, truck drivers spend over 300 days on the road a year, and while regulations exist, truck drivers can spend up to 11 hours per day driving before being required to take a 10-hour break.

This can lead to fatigue and serious consequences. Keep reading to learn more about the impact of fatigue on truck drivers.

The Reality of Semi-Truck Accidents in the United States

Truck accidents are a harsh reality on American roads, causing significant yearly damage and loss. These incidents involve large commercial vehicles like semi-trucks colliding with other cars, pedestrians, or property. The sheer size and weight of these trucks magnify the impact of any collision, often leading to severe injuries or even fatalities.

According to statistics, 5,837 large trucks were involved in a fatal crash in 2022, up 1.8 percent from 2021. Even more disturbing, it’s up 49 percent in the past ten years.

There are many factors that contribute to these accidents, but a huge one is driver fatigue. That’s not surprising when you realize that in one study, 65% of truck drivers admitted to feeling fatigued while driving. Another 13% have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel.

These numbers are alarming, but it’s important to understand how fatigue impacts a truck driver and how to address it.

What Happens to Your Brain When You’re Tired?

The effects of driver fatigue go beyond just feeling sleepy. When fatigue sets in, your cognitive functions start to decline. Your ability to concentrate and make decisions becomes impaired as tiredness takes its toll on your brain.

As you push through fatigue, your reaction times become slower. This means that tasks requiring quick thinking and reflexes can be compromised. Your brain struggles to process information efficiently, leading to lapses in judgment and coordination.

Lack of sleep can also disrupt the balance of neurotransmitters in your brain, affecting mood regulation. You may find yourself more irritable or emotionally unstable when fatigued. Chronic sleep deprivation can even increase the risk of developing mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

How Does This Impact Your Driving?

All of these cognitive and emotional effects may impact your driving ability. You may have difficulty staying alert and focused on the road when you’re tired. This can result in delayed reactions to hazards or missed signals from other drivers.

Fatigue can also impair your decision-making skills, making it more difficult to assess risks and make safe choices while driving. This can lead to reckless behaviors like speeding or tailgating, increasing the risk of accidents.

Driver fatigue has been shown to have similar effects on the brain as alcohol consumption. Being awake for 20 hours can have the same impact of a BAC of .08. Like being under the influence, fatigue can slow reaction times, decrease coordination, and impair judgment – all critical factors in safe driving.

Factors That Contribute to Truck Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers face a multitude of factors that can lead to fatigue while on the road.

Some of these factors include the following:

  • Long hours
  • Pressure to meet delivery schedules and deadlines
  • Poor sleep hygiene
  • Insufficient rest breaks
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Monotonous highway stretches

Consequences of Fatigue-Related Truck Accidents

The toll of fatigue-related truck accidents goes beyond the immediate physical harm caused by the collision. These accidents can have devastating consequences for everyone involved.

Increased Risk of Death or Injuries

Fatigued truck drivers are more likely to cause serious accidents due to their impaired judgment, slower reaction times, and decreased ability to pay attention to the road. This can result in catastrophic injuries or even death for the truck driver, other motorists, and pedestrians.

Property Damage

Truck accidents caused by fatigue can also result in significant property damage, including damage to other vehicles and structures. These accidents may sometimes lead to fires, explosions, or leaks if hazardous materials are being transported.

Financial Losses

Truck accidents caused by fatigue can also result in significant financial losses for all parties involved. Victims may face medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage costs. The trucking company may also face financial losses from damaged goods and potential lawsuits.

Legal Consequences

Truck drivers and trucking companies have a legal obligation to comply with federal regulations regarding hours of service and rest breaks. If investigators determine that a fatigued driver who violated these regulations caused a truck accident, they may face legal consequences.

This may include:

  • Fines
  • License suspension or revocation
  • Criminal charges

Impact on Mental Health

Being involved in a truck accident can be traumatic for all parties involved. It can lead to long-term mental health issues such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression. These mental health issues may affect a person’s ability to work, maintain relationships, and overall quality of life.

How Can an Attorney Help?

If you’ve been involved in a semi-truck accident, navigating the legal process can be overwhelming. An attorney with knowledge of truck accident cases can make a significant difference.

They can help with the following and more:

  • Investigations to determine liability
  • Communication with insurance companies
  • Negotiating a settlement
  • Representing you in court

In addition, an attorney can help assess the compensation you may deserve. An attorney can advocate for you so you can focus on healing.

Let Talbot, Carmouche & Marcello Fight for You

The impact of fatigue on semi-truck accidents cannot be overlooked. If you’ve been involved in an accident, it’s important to find an attorney who can advocate for you.

Talbot, Carmouche & Marcello have represented the people of Louisiana for over 50 years. When you work with us, you can expect patient, kind, and caring support from a dedicated legal team. Contact us for a free consultation.