Causes of Trucking Accidents: Truck Driver Fatigue

Commercial trucks are the biggest and heaviest vehicles on the highway. As a result, they can also be the most dangerous. The size and weight of these vehicles means that most accidents involving tractor trailers result in serious injuries or death. There are many factors that contribute to truck accidents, such as faulty maintenance and repair, shifting or falling cargo, and improperly adjusted brakes, but a major cause is certainly truck driver fatigue.

Truck drivers are usually compensated by the number of miles they drive.  Unfortunately, this gives truckers an incentive to drive as many miles as possible, which means long hours and, inevitably, driver fatigue. Even though there are laws that control the number of hours a truck driver can drive each day, some trucking companies expect their drivers to meet deadlines without regard to how much driving it will take. In addition to money and profit, there are other factors that cause driver fatigue.  Drivers may be in a hurry to get home so they drive longer hours than they should. Truck drivers may skip breaks and keep driving to avoid rush hour traffic or pending bad weather. These careless actions endanger the lives of the truck driver and other motorists on the highway.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established guidelines and rules of the road to minimize truck accidents and help prevent driver fatigue.[1] Professional truck drivers are legally required to maintain driving logs, expense receipts, and paperwork that record their time both on and off the road.  These laws have helped reduce the number of trucking accidents on the highways, but they have not eliminated the problem.  Driver fatigue remains a leading cause of truck accidents.

Driver fatigue causes truck drivers to lose focus and make mistakes while driving.  The extent of the problem means that you need to drive defensively when you are on the highway with large semi trucks.  Keep a safe distance between you and other trucks on the highway. Don’t drive in a truck’s blind spot and don’t cut too close when moving back into the truck’s lane after passing. Give truck drivers plenty of room to enter the highway and give them plenty of space to change lanes in front of you. Using a bit more caution around tractor trailers can help prevent a truck accident.  While many truck drivers engage in safe driving behaviors, the size and weight of their vehicles means that unsafe behavior can quickly have tragic consequences for other motorists on the road with them.

There are many complicated laws in place regarding professional truck drivers. If you or a member of your family has been injured in an accident with a truck at no fault of your own, you should consult an experienced trucking accident attorney right away.  At Allen and Allen, we have experienced attorneys who have handled many trucking accidents and are very familiar with the special characteristics of these cases and the type of investigation that is needed to determine the cause of the collision.[2]If you, a family member or a friend have been injured in a trucking accident, please give us a call at 866-388-6408 for a free consultation.

About P. Christopher Guedri: Chris Guedri is an experienced truck accident attorney. He has handled complicated tractor trailer accident cases, casos de accidentes de autobús and commercial truck accident cases. In a career spanning over 30 years, he has been recognized by his peers as a superb litigator, Chris has been listed in the book Los mejores abogados de Estados Unidos since 1995. More recently, he was inducted into the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, an organization of attorneys who are elected to membership based on their reputation for excellence. He has been included among “Legal Elite Best Lawyers in Virginia” by Revista de negocios de Virginia.


[1] For a list of the regulations and more information, see http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/fmcsr/fmcsrguide.aspx.