How Many Hours Can a Truck Driver Work in One Shift?
Anyone can feel tired after driving for a few hours, but that is nothing compared to the shifts that long-haul truckers face. Some spend up to 14 hours behind the wheel, with little time allocated for breaks. It is no wonder that driver fatigue contributes to truck accidents.
According to a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) report, up to 13 percent of commercial truckers are fatigued when they get into accidents. They are only required to stop driving once after driving for 14 hours but do not have to break until after 11 hours of straight driving. They are also not supposed to drive more than 60 hours a week or 70 hours in an eight-day period. Imagine sticking to a regular sleep schedule when working those hours.
The human body follows a natural circadian rhythm that regulates sleep and wake cycles. Truck drivers frequently work irregular schedules and can drive throughout the night or at other odd times. That requires adjusting sleep and meal breaks to accommodate delivery routes. Those sleep disruptions make staying alert and focused behind the wheel harder.
Truck drivers also face pressure at certain times to make more deliveries or complete shorter delivery times. That can happen during the holidays when more goods need to be transported. The mental stress and extra hours can also contribute to fatigue. Other causes of tiredness include being under the influence and medication side effects.
How Can I Tell if a Truck Driver Is Fatigued?
The red flags for a fatigued truck driver are similar to those of someone who is intoxicated:
- Driving too slowly
- Drifting out of their lane
- Judgment errors, like cutting off another driver
- Driving onto a shoulder without warning
- Not using indicators
If you observe any of this while driving, increase your distance. Have a passenger call the authorities or do it yourself from a safe location. Pay attention if you end up in an accident that a truck driver might have caused. They might exhibit signs of fatigue, like yawning, seeming off balance, stumbling speech, or appearing sleepy. Mention this to a responding law enforcement officer, who might note that in their police report.
How Can I Prove That a Truck Driver Was Fatigued?
An experienced lawyer can work to prove that a truck driver was fatigued at the time of an accident. They might investigate what happened and gather proof that there was negligence. This kind of evidence includes traffic camera footage, onboard truck monitoring systems, driver logs, toll receipts, and gas receipts.
Contact a Washington, DC Truck Accident Lawyer at the Law Offices of Duane O. King for Legal Representation After a Truck Accident
Truck drivers have demanding schedules, but their actions should not compromise your safety. For a free consultation, contact an experienced Washington DC truck accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Duane O. King. Call 202-331-1963 or complete our online form today. Located in Washington, D.C., Alexandria, and Falls Church, Virginia, we serve clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.