Driver fatigue is among one of the leading causes of truck accidents in Illinois and throughout the country. In some cases, this fatigue is brought on by a commercial truck driver exceeding the maximum number of legal driving hours. However, in other cases, the sleepiness is due to an overall lack of sleep. There are many reasons for not getting enough sleep, including not listening to the body’s natural circadian rhythm or a sleep-related disorder.
Several years ago the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducted a study analyzing the sleeping patterns and behaviors of commercial truck drivers. The study looked at 80 long-haul truck drivers. From there it was found, on average, that truck drivers were only getting five hours of sleep per night.
Only getting around five hours of sleep per night is certainly dangerous as all people — regardless of what they do for a living — need between seven and nine hours of sleep. By continuously not getting enough sleep, not only is a driver tired and not functioning at their highest capacity, but a sleep debt starts to build up. In response to this sleep debt, the body will crave sleep and a driver will experience excessive tiredness. Obviously, when this happens behind the wheel of a truck weighing several thousand pounds, the results can be devastating to the truck driver and anyone else who happens to be around.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, drowsy driving is the cause of more than half of fatal truck driver truck accidents. This is particularly troubling since for every one truck driver who is killed in an accident, on average, there are three to four other people who are killed.
In addition to sleep debt and truck drivers just not getting enough sleep, it should also be noted that it has been estimated that more than 70 million Americans suffer from some sort of sleep disorder. For a truck driver, a sleep disorder — whether diagnosed or not — is just one more strike working against them and the safety of others.
Source: National Sleep Foundation, “National Sleep Foundation White Paper on Drowsy Driving,” accessed Feb. 27, 2013
- Our firm handles truck accident cases where another driver or passenger was injured due to tired driving. To learn more, visit our Illinois truck driver fatigue page.