The last thing that any person expects when they are on the roadway is that they will be involved in an accident with a large commercial truck. However, these accidents do occur, and they often result in severe injuries for those inside traditional passenger vehicles. One of the main causes of truck accidents in Illinois is truck driver fatigue. The reality is that drivers are required to follow strict guidelines when it comes to the operation of these large vehicles. Failing to follow regulations and laws could result in fatigue driving. Here, our Chicago truck accident lawyers discuss the signs that you can be on the lookout for that indicate a truck driver may be fatigued.
What Causes Truck Driver Fatigue?
There are various causes of truck driver fatigue that you should be aware of. First, drivers are tightly regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) when it comes to how long they are allowed to operate each workday and workweek. These regulations relate to their hours of service. In general, a truck driver is permitted 11 hours of actual driving time during a 14-hour driving window. The 14-hour driving window begins after a driver has been off-duty for ten consecutive hours.
Additionally, drivers are required to stay within a 60- or 70-hour weekly limit, depending on whether or not they are measuring by seven or eight consecutive days. A workweek can be reset by a driver taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
However, hours of service violations are not the only way for truck drivers to become fatigued. Driving a truck can become monotonous and repetitive, and this can be conducive to fatigued driving conditions. Additionally, over-the-counter and prescription medications can also cause a driver to become fatigued, as can alcohol consumption.
Perhaps the most common cause of truck driver fatigue is an irregular sleep schedule. It is imperative for truck drivers to try and get a full night’s sleep before each driving shift.
What Does Truck Driver Fatigue Look Like?
We hope that no person ever has to deal with an accident involving truck driver fatigue. However, if you are on the roadway and operating near a large truck, there are various signs that you can be on the lookout for that may indicate that the driver is fatigued or even falling asleep at the wheel. This includes:
- The driver having trouble staying within their lane
- A driver traveling slower than usual
- A driver traveling much faster than the speed limit
- A truck driver ignoring traffic lights or signs
If a crash involving a large commercial truck does occur, and if you suspect that truck driver fatigue could be a cause of the crash, there are various steps that you can take in order to help prove this for the purposes of receiving a settlement from insurance carriers or through a personal injury lawsuit. First, the police need to be called so they can come to the scene and investigate. We then suggest taking the following steps:
- Speaking to any eyewitnesses who may have seen what happened
- Getting the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses or other drivers involved
- Taking photographs of everything at the scene
- Getting the truck number and driver’s information
- Getting checked out by a doctor immediately
If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident and you suspect that the driver was fatigued, we suggest speaking to a skilled Illinois truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney will understand the steps that need to be taken, which will include gathering additional evidence that may have been impossible to get at the scene. An attorney can work to obtain a driver’s electronic logging device (ELD) and the truck’s electronic control module (ECM). All of this information will be used to determine the cause of the crash, including whether or not the truck driver was fatigued when the incident occurred.