Commercial Driver Fatigue and its Role in Crashes

In my last entry, I started to introduce the significant impact fatigue can have on drivers of 18 wheelers. The medical community, the federal and state governments and the trucking industry recognize the prevalence of drivers who push it passed the limits, and simultaneously decrease their attentiveness and effectiveness as professional drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently studied the cause of accidents in which big rig drivers were found at fault. The results of the study are clear on how fatigue plays a factor in almost every category of accident. NHTSA found:

38% of accidents were due to poor decisions (the driver was driving too fast for conditions, misjudging the speed of other vehicles, following other vehicles too closely, etc.)

28% of accidents were due to problems with recognition (the driver was inattentive, distracted or failed to observe the situation adequately for another reason)

12% of accidents involved non-performance (the driver fell asleep, suffered a heart attack or seizure or was physically impaired for another reason)

9% of accidents involved performance issues (the driver panicked, overcompensated, exercised poor control of the vehicle, etc.)

It is our job as lawyers to investigate the cause or causes of 18 wheeler accidents. This is true whether the accident was investigated by the police authorities or not. If you are investigating a professional driver’s conduct in an accident, you must look into the possibility of driver fatigue as a cause of the crash. And all causes of fatigue should be examined.