Driving for work is a dangerous career. Commercial truck drivers often have to be on the road at all hours of the night and during terrible weather conditions. Their industry is one of the most dangerous. However, their work ensures that products and materials are available when and where people need them.
Unfortunately, these massive vehicles also pose a serious risk to others on the roads. Commercial trucks make wide turns, have huge blind spots and take longer to stop than smaller vehicles. Their size and weight can result in massive damage to smaller vehicles and severe or even fatal injuries to the people inside them. That's why their drivers must be in perfect control of the vehicle at all times. When truckers choose to drive while exhausted, they put everyone on the road at risk.
Fatigue and exhaustion impact the ability to drive
When humans get tired, our brains don't function optimally. Motor function, decision making, reaction time and other critical tasks end up compromised when someone tired gets behind the wheel of a vehicle. That person may not register sudden stimuli, like an animal or person who bolts into the road. A tired driver may fail to react, react too slowly or even overreact, jerking the wheel and causing other issues.
Tired drivers can also fall asleep at the wheel, completely losing control of the vehicle. Road hypnosis, where the repetitive visuals and sounds of driving lull a person, also pose a risk for tired truckers.
There are laws limiting hours a trucker can drive
In order to reduce exhausted driving and the risk it creates for others on the road, the federal government has created Hours of Service rules. These regulations limit how long a commercial driver can operate a vehicle.
For example, a commercial driver can only drive a maximum of eleven hours after ten consecutive hours off duty. Even if there are rests and breaks, a trucker cannot continue driving beyond the 14th hour on duty after a ten hour break.
Truckers may bend or break those rules about rest
There are a lot of reasons why a trucker may choose to violate the law and drive for longer than he or she should. Maybe there was bad traffic or weather that slowed part of the trip. Perhaps they have time-sensitive materials that have to make delivery. Some companies offer bonuses for on-time delivery, incentivizing bad decision making.
For those who end up victims in a crash with a commercial vehicle, it's important to know if exhaustion factored into the crash. That could establish liability on the part of the driver or the trucking company.