The trucking industry standard for driver’s wages is the ‘pay by the mile’ rule. This means that a truck driver is paid for every mile driven; the longer the route and number of hours spent on the road, the higher the pay. In addition, truck driver salaries are fairly low. As a result, drivers are often forced to work more to provide for their families. Because of this, drivers often forego or neglect their sleep schedules, preferring instead to use the time intended for sleeping as working time on the road.
FMCSR & Lack of Sleep
This practice of extending working hours beyond human capability is prohibited. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) even introduced regulations to this effect, such as the hours of sleep rule and the requirement of driver’s logs. Unfortunately, while these may look good on paper, the reality is that drivers and motor carriers often ignore these regulations; it’s not unusual for drivers to drive their route plagued by fatigue and lack of sleep.
A fatigued driver is a dangerous driver. He/she is more prone to missing cues and signals on the road. Cognitive functions are often affected, meaning a driver can’t think as quickly as they should. In addition, a driver’s reflexes may be affected by fatigue; the driver may not be quick enough to step on the brakes when needed.
Fatigue can set in even when the drivers are compliant with FMCSR. One example is when truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea. It is a sleep disorder that causes restless sleep and fatigue-riddled working hours. An individual who suffers from sleep apnea stops breathing for a few seconds several times over the course of one sleep. This means that sleep isn’t really restorative, even when the individual got eight or more hours of sleep. If a driver is proven to be afflicted with sleep apnea, then there might be a case for fatigued driving.
By Attorney Jin Kim – Jin is a personal injury attorney in Sacramento, CA. You can learn more about truck accident litigation on sacramentoautoaccident.com or call her for a free consultation.