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Possible causes of truck driver fatigue and accidents

The number of semi-trucks on the road in Florida can be daunting for other drivers. These vehicles are massive and are frequently traveling long distances at a high rate of speed. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) offers advice for drivers and companies to maintain proper safety procedures. For people who are concerned about being in a truck accident, the advice that the FMCSA offers can also provide a window into reasons why accidents caused by truck driver fatigue might occur by examining tips that drivers receive to avoid them.

Studies into the reasoning behind truck crashes found that 13 percent were due to commercial drivers being fatigued. Drivers are encouraged to get enough rest prior to getting behind the wheel. There are times at which people are naturally drowsy. These are generally viewed as overnight hours between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. and between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Drivers are encouraged to pull over if they begin to feel fatigued, but many don't because they don't realize the dangers or are trying to get their jobs done due to employer pressure or financial need.

Truck drivers often do not have the luxury of resting if they are not feeling 100 percent. That means they might take medication to get them through. Some medications can induce drowsiness. The failure to read and adhere to warning labels can place drivers and other people on the road at risk. When operating a truck, there are known signals that drowsiness is becoming an issue. Yawning frequently, having trouble keeping one's eyes open or experiencing blurred vision are all signs of fatigue. Driving while tired may in some circumstances be just as dangerous as drunk driving.

Some truck drivers use various tricks to stay awake like making the radio very loud, drinking coffee, opening the window or smoking. These are not replacements for sleep, and might lead a driver to believe that it is possible to keep going in spite of the fatigue that is blatantly setting in. Federal trucking regulations are in place for everyone's safety. Trying to find ways to navigate around them can lead to a truck accident, serious injuries and death. If there is a belief that a truck driver was operating the vehicle while excessively fatigued, it could be important to a legal case.

Source: fmcsa.com, "CMV Driving Tips - Driver Fatigue," accessed on Aug. 18, 2015

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