With very few exceptions, such as the targeted relaxation of these laws by President Trump this year, the Hours of Service regulations provide limits to how long truckers can drive. Those who are hauling goods are normally limited to no more than 11 hours behind the wheel before they have to take a rest break of at least 10 consecutive hours.
These limits are meant to help ensure truckers aren’t driving fatigued. The relaxation of the rules for those who are transporting critical supplies across the nation has some worried that fatigue is going to become a problem for truckers.
How does fatigue impact drivers?
A trucker who is fatigued can’t make decisions appropriately. They may have a slower reaction time than what’s needed to avoid a crash. One study published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine found that going 17 to 19 hours without sleep had an effect that was equivalent to having a blood alcohol concentration of at least .05%.
There is also a chance that the trucker will fall asleep at the wheel. This turns their rig into an uncontrolled projectile, which can lead to serious crashes. Even if they only nod off for a few seconds before jerking awake, their semitruck can still travel a considerable distance. Moving at 55 miles per hour, a vehicle travels the length of a football field in only five seconds.
How should truckers handle fatigue?
The only way truckers can prevent issues that come with fatigued driving is to get enough rest. This can include pausing during a shift to take a nap if they notice signs of being too tired to drive. It may also mean cutting a shift short to get a good night’s sleep.
Unfortunately, there are instances in which truckers aren’t able to do this because they are bound by delivery promises of their company. This may shift the liability for the crash, so it’s important to think about the circumstances surrounding the wreck.
What should crash victims do?
People who are involved in a semitruck crash should seek medical care. As soon as possible, they should also begin to gather evidence about the crash. Working with someone who’s familiar with this type of case might be beneficial so the victim can focus on healing. The evidence gathered during this process can become important if the victim decides to pursue a claim for compensation. This can help them to transfer the financial liability from the injured person to the accountable party.