Tips to Prevent Truck Driver Fatigue

Driver fatigue is a prominent issue amongst truck drivers that can have a number of serious consequences for both the truck driver and all others on the road. In 2021 alone, there were 5,788 fatalities in to truck accidents, and the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) estimates that 30-40% of all trucking accidents are related to driver fatigue. Furthermore, the danger of driver fatigue should not be underestimated. Let`s explore some helpful tips and ways in which truck drivers can work to prevent driver fatigue.

truck Accidents

Hours of Service Service Compliance

The first step that truck drivers can take to help prevent truck driver fatigue is to comply with the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 

(FMCSA). These regulations include the following:

  • Truck drivers are allowed to drive 11 hours maximum and then be off duty for 10 consecutive straight.
  • Truck drivers are not allowed to be on duty for more than 14 hours after being off duty for 10 consecutive hours
  • Truck drivers must take at least a 30-minute, undisrupted break after driving for 8 cumulative hours. 
  • In the event there are adverse weather conditions, truck drivers are permitted to drive an additional two hours.
  • Known as the 60/70-Hour limit rule, truck drivers are not permitted to drive more than 60 hours over 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8- consecutive days. The consecutive day periods restarts after 34 or more consecutive off-duty hours. 
  • Truck drivers are allowed to split off their 10-hour off duty requirement, so long as at least 7 consecutive hours are spent in the sleeper berth.

To simplify the process of keeping track of your hours of service and ensuring that you are not in violation, the FMCSA has made a calculator to help promote compliance. Following these regulations are not only required by law but will also help curb the prominence of driver fatigue. 

Driving Hours

Another crucial tip to avoid truck driver fatigue is to be conscientious about what hours of the day you are driving. Since your body is likely to experience natural drowsiness between 12:00 A.M. to 6:00 A.M and 2:00P.M. to 4P.M., you should try and avoid driving during this time. Drowsy driving greatly affects your reaction time and alertness, which can be incredibly dangerous and even fatal. 

Read Medication Labels

Even taking medications can affect your fatigue levels when driving. Some medications, such as cold decongestants and pain relievers, are known to induce drowsiness. Therefore, you should look for warning labels that may indicate this side effect. A study conducted by the FMCSA found that 17% of truck drivers reported having taken “over-the-counter drugs” at the time they got into a truck accident. Therefore, you will want to avoid taking these drowsiness-inducing medications, if possible. 

Listen to Your Body

While it can be tempting to max out your driving hours, it is important that you are self-aware and put your own health first. If you notice any warning signs that you are fatigued and you are finding it difficult to keep your eyes open, it is best that you pull over, take a nap, or do whatever you need to do in order to avoid getting into a serious accident. Listen to your body and don`t let your ego get in the way.

What To Do After a Truck Accident

In the event you are involved in a truck accident, it is crucial that you contact a San Antonio truck accident lawyer who can help guide you through the legal process and ensure your rights are protected. However, if you follow all of the aforementioned tips, you are making great strides to reduce the chance of getting in a serious truck accident. It is better to be safe than sorry and practice safe driving guidelines.