Fatigue is one of the most common causes of commercial motor vehicle accidents. When a truck driver is fatigued, his skills, abilities, coordination, and cognitive ability are all impaired. This is dangerous in a job which requires quick reflexes and the ability to make decisions quickly. In some instances, a fatigued driver may even fall asleep at the wheel – extremely dangerous considering the weight and mass of most trucks.
Fatigue and Hours of Work
The law limits the number of hours a driver may work or drive in one day. The general rule is that a driver should not be allowed to drive for more than 11 hours after a break of 10 consecutive hours. The purpose of the 10 consecutive hours of break is to allow the truck driver some rest after a grueling job.
However, it is entirely possible that a truck driver may still be fatigued even when he or she is not exceeding the limit on hours of work per day. There are a variety of reasons why a driver may feel fatigued even after a break. A common example is when drivers suffer from sleep apnea, which may affect their quality of rest. Another possible reason is that records are often falsified to be compliant with regulations. The reality often is that drivers don’t get the number of hours of rest the law gives them.
Since records are prone to falsification, proving that a driver was fatigued while the accident occurred can be daunting.
Sleep apnea is a medical condition where they stop breathing during their sleep, sometimes for as long as 30 seconds. This interruption can happen for as often as 400 times a night. People with this condition feel sleepy even after they’ve had 8 or more hours of sleep. For drivers with this condition, the result is that they often feel fatigued while on the road.