How Tired Truck Drivers Cause Accidents

How Tired Truck Drivers Cause Accidents

Truck drivers drive a substantial number of hours, and those in Oklahoma City, OK, are no exception. Even with federal regulations in place to reduce fatigued driving by truckers, they can spend as many as 11 hours per day driving.

Currently, many drivers do just that. A nationwide driver shortage has pushed many drivers to use their maximum allowed service hours. This schedule results in tired drivers and drowsy driving truck accidents.

This article provides an overview of the role fatigue plays in truck accidents.

How McGuire Law Firm Can Help After a Truck Accident in Oklahoma City

How McGuire Law Firm Can Help After a Truck Accident in Oklahoma City

The lawyers at McGuire Law Firm have over 60 years of experience, including 13 years of experience representing insurance companies. This experience helps them develop legal strategies based on how insurance companies handle cases.

Our Oklahoma City truck accident lawyers have earned many honors and awards, including:

  • AV preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell
  • Selected as Oklahoma Super Lawyers
  • Listed among the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by National Trial Lawyers

Contact McGuire Law Firm in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, at (405) 513-5658 for a free consultation to discuss your truck accident caused by a tired truck driver.

How Common Are Truck Accidents with Tired Drivers?

Trucking companies must report to the U.S. government all truck accidents that result in:

  • Injury
  • Death
  • A disabled vehicle

In an average year, the U.S. has about 500,000 truck accidents. These truck accidents cause about 2,800 passenger vehicle deaths and 680 truck driver deaths. Truck accidents also kill about 630 pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists in a typical year.

Oklahoma has about 4,800 truck accidents every year. These kill about 70 Oklahoma residents and injure around 1,150 more. About 1,100 of Oklahoma’s truck accidents happen in Oklahoma City. 

Oklahoma reports fatigued driving with other causes, so the annual statistics report that up to 12% of truck accidents involve a tired driver. This figure means drowsy truck drivers may cause as many as 140 truck accidents in Oklahoma City every year.

Overview of Fatigued Driving Truck Accidents

Tired drivers pose a risk to all road users, including other truck drivers, passenger vehicle drivers and passengers, motorcycle riders, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Fatigue can cause truck drivers to:

  • Fall asleep while driving
  • React slowly to hazards and other road users
  • Make poor decisions
  • Lose control over the truck and drift from the lane
  • Experience tunnel vision
  • Lose focus

Drowsy drivers are also more likely to get distracted, lose their way, and overcorrect or undercorrect when they maneuver.

Causes of Fatigued Truck Driving

Truck drivers are particularly susceptible to fatigued driving. They usually have tight schedules, which limit their ability to get extra rest. As a result, most truck drivers operate using only the minimum rest periods required by law.

Hours of Service Regulations

The hours of service rules require ten consecutive hours of rest every 24 hours. After resting, drivers can drive up to 11 hours in the next 14 hours before resting again.

Suppose that a driver sleeps ten hours and wakes up at 6 a.m. That driver can spend up to 11 hours driving until 8 p.m. This schedule gives the driver three hours' worth of meal breaks and rest stops between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

As planned by regulators, drivers have a long day. Few people work a shift lasting 11 hours, and the ten-hour rest break barely gives the driver time to take care of any personal business and sleep. As a result, many drivers operate on less sleep than is ideal.

Exceptions to the Hours of Service

The regulations also provide two important exceptions. First, short-haul truckers who operate within a 150-mile radius of their main location only need to limit themselves to a 14-hour shift.

Second, if a trucker encounters adverse conditions, the trucker can extend the 11-hour driving time and 14-hour shift by two hours. Adverse conditions include:

  • Weather conditions like snow, ice, sleet, or fog
  • Road or traffic conditions

The conditions must have been unknown to the driver or dispatcher before the beginning of the shift. This rule prevents the driver from improperly extending a shift by driving into adverse conditions.

Injuries from Fatigued Driving Truck Accidents

Fatigued driving accidents often result in the truck driver losing control over the truck. This loss of control can lead to the truck drifting into the wrong lane, rear-ending vehicles, or rolling over after the driver overcorrects.

Of those injured in Oklahoma truck accidents in 2019, 13% suffered a serious injury, 34% suffered a minor injury, and 54% suffered a suspected injury.

Liability for Fatigued Driving Truck Accidents

Trucking companies bear liability for the acts of their employees, including their truck drivers. Even if a truck driver violated the trucking company’s policy regarding hours of service, the trucking company might still bear liability for its negligence in enforcing its rules.

If the truck driver acts as an independent contractor or owner/operator, the driver may bear sole liability for the accident. As an independent contractor, the truck driver's business is separate from the shipper.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Our Oklahoma City Truck Accident Lawyers

Truck accidents can leave you with catastrophic injuries. The Oklahoma City truck accident lawyers from McGuire Law Firm can advocate for your interests to get fair compensation for your injuries. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.