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Signs of Truck Driver Fatigue

Colburn Law

Signs of truck driver fatigue

Because of the dangerous nature of their jobs, truck drivers must adhere to strict regulations when operating commercial vehicles. In particular truck drivers cannot drive more than a certain number of hours each day to avoid driver fatigue and the accidents that drowsy driving can cause. However, not all drivers follow these rules, leading to severe accidents that result in injury and death. If you are driving near a commercial vehicle, it is important to watch for signs of drowsy driving. For more information, contact a Seattle truck accident lawyer today.

Dangers of Drowsy Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving led to 91,000 accidents and 795 fatalities in 2017 alone. While falling asleep at the wheel of any vehicle can be dangerous, collisions with commercial trucks are often fatal due to their large sizes and heavyweights. Truckers can also have erratic schedules, which can lead to inconsistent quality of sleep and a higher risk of fatigued driving.

To operate a vehicle safely, a driver must focus his or her mind, eyes, and hands-on the act of driving. Driving while drowsy can impair your cognitive and mechanical abilities; you may be unable to focus or concentrate, experience slowed reflexes, or even lose consciousness at the wheel. Truck drivers can avoid losing control of their vehicles by getting enough sleep and following daily driving limits.

Washington State Truck Driver Regulations

Commercial truck drivers in Washington must follow requirements set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), as well as state regulatory bodies. To prevent drowsy driving, the Washington Department of Licensing states that commercial cargo-carrying truck drivers must adhere to the following driving limits.

  • Drivers can drive up to 11 hours after taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Drivers may not drive after their 14th hour on duty, after taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Drivers cannot drive more than 60 hours over seven consecutive days, and more than 70 hours over eight consecutive days.
  • Drivers may restart a seven or eight-day period if they take at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.

How to Tell If a Driver Is Fatigued

Fatigued driving can be difficult to spot from outside the other vehicle. However, you can watch for certain driving behaviors that indicate a driver is losing focus or concentration, including the following.

  • Drifting in and out of different lanes
  • Erratic changes in driving speed
  • Drifting onto the shoulder or side of the road
  • Failure to brake, yield, or adhere to traffic signs and signals

If you notice a truck driver exhibiting any of the above behaviors, or any other signs of unsafe or unstable driving, move out of his or her path and pull over in a safe location. You can report the truck driver to law enforcement by calling 911 or the non-emergency police line.

What to Do If You Are in an Accident with a Fatigued Truck Driver

Accidents with a commercial truck can result in serious injuries. If you are in a collision with a truck driver, call 911 as soon as possible and seek medical attention immediately. If you are able to move around the accident scene safely and without injury, take the following steps.

  • Speak to the responding police officer to report your accident.
  • Take photographs of the accident and any injuries you sustain.
  • Ask the truck driver for his or her contact, company, and license details.
  • If there are any witnesses in the area, ask them for their contact information.

After you receive treatment, contact a Seattle personal injury attorney. You may be eligible for financial compensation to pay for the damages you incur due to the accident. Speak to your lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your next steps.