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Truck Driver Fatigue and How it Can Affect Your Case

Truck drivers are required to follow strict regulations when it comes to how many hours they can operate during a day and during a workweek. The federal government set these rules in order to prevent truck drivers from operating while fatigued behind the wheel. Here, we want to discuss how truck driver fatigue affects roadway safety as well as how drowsy driving can affect truck accident cases in the event an accident occurs.

How Does Fatigued Driving Affect Commercial Truckers?

Nearly everyone has operated a vehicle while they were tired. However, driving while fatigued is incredibly dangerous, and this is particularly true for those who operate large commercial trucks in California. Truck drivers have very important jobs, and they also operate vehicles that are much larger than traditional passenger cars on the roadway. Driving a larger truck while fatigued can lead to incredibly disastrous accidents.

Commercial truck drivers in California can become fatigued behind the wheel in a variety of ways, often due to the very nature of the job. Some of the most common causes of truck driver fatigue include the following:

  • Failing to get enough sleep when off duty 
  • Unpredictable sleep patterns and schedules
  • The performance of monotonous tasks behind the wheel
  • Excessive caffeine use
  • Improper use of over the counter or prescription medications
  • Improper diet and nutrition 
  • Violation of the hours of service requirements from the FMCSA

If a truck driver operates a vehicle while fatigued, this can create dangerous situations on the roadway. Similar to impaired driving, fatigued driving can slow down a commercial truck driver’s reaction times. Fatigued drivers often fail to notice changes in roadway safety, and they may not be able to react in a timely manner to other drivers’ actions on the roadway. 

The worst-case scenario for a California truck driver is falling asleep behind the wheel. This can result in a complete loss of control of these larger trucks. Even falling asleep for just a few seconds can lead to catastrophic accidents, injuries, and property damage.

There Are Federal Hours of Service Regulations

Truck drivers are required to follow hours of service requirements set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This federal agency is under the auspices of the federal Department of Transportation, and they regulate how many hours truckers are allowed to drive during a single day and during a total workweek. Any commercial truck driver who operates across state lines is required to abide by these federal regulations, and California state regulations mimic the overall federal regulations.

During a seven-day workweek, a truck driver is allowed to operate for 60 total hours. During an eight-day workweek, a driver can operate for 70 total hours.

During a single driving day, a truck driver in California has a 14-hour window with which they are allowed to operate. During that time frame, a driver can operate the vehicle for 11 total hours. The remaining three hours have to be spent on meal breaks, restroom breaks, or nap breaks. 

If a truck driver fails to abide by the service regulations, or if they operate a vehicle while fatigued, they could be held liable for their actions in the event a collision occurs. If you or somebody you love has been injured in a truck accident caused by a fatigued driver, you need to speak to a Riverside truck accident attorney who can help with every aspect of your claim.