The Dangers of Tired Truck Drivers

Some sobering facts and numbers to start with:

  • According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), driver fatigue is a factor in 13% of all serious truck accidents.
  • According to a FMCSA study, 65% of commercial truck drivers report they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving, and nearly 50% of truck drivers report that they have actually fallen asleep while driving.
  • This can be especially true for truck drivers operating during the hours when circadian rhythms are naturally at a low, between midnight and 6:00am.
  • The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that 328,000 fatigued driver crashes occur annually—109,000 of those result in injury, and 6,400 in fatalities.
  • They also estimate that fatigued driving fatalities are actually more than 350% greater than those reported.
  • Close to home, according to the Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute, Ohio is one of just ten states that account for more than half of all fatal truck and bus accidents in the U.S.
  • Driving after going without sleep for 20 hours or more is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol reading of 0.08%—the U.S. legal limit.

Despite these alarming statistics, truck drivers are permitted by law to drive up to 11 total hours during a 14-hour shift, at which point a mandatory 10-hour rest period is required. Additionally, a commercial truck driver cannot drive more than 70 hours within 8 days. However, goods must get where they’re needed, and even though all truck drivers are required by law to keep track of their driving/rest periods, there are numerous ways those rules can be bent and worked around.

The Dangers of Fatigued Driving

What exactly are the possible dangers associated with tired truck drivers? While there are many, the two main ones are:

  • Slower response time—Mere seconds can be the difference between avoiding and causing a catastrophic accident, and a slower response time can make all the difference. Commercial trucks are a good deal heavier than regular cars and motorcycles—20 to 30 times heavier in fact. A fully loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. This is important when it comes to response time, because it can take a loaded tractor trailer 20 to 40% longer than the average car to slow down and stop.
  • Lack of focus and impaired judgment—Again, being at the wheel of an 80,000 pound juggernaut requires split-second decisions, and a drowsy, or worse yet, a sleeping, driver is often incapable of making those decisions. Because commercial trucks are taller and higher off the ground than cars, and because the accidents can occur at a high rate of speed, cars often end up smashed beneath the truck. In a truck vs. car encounter, the truck always wins. Even in accidents that don’t involve other vehicles, such as a truck running off the road when the driver falls asleep, extremely expensive property damage can occur.

Signs to Watch For

While there’s no way to know for sure when a commercial truck driven by a tired driver may be a threat to you, there are some signs to watch for:

  • Swerving/erratically changing lanes.
  • Driving recklessly—This can include speeding, erratic braking, tailgating, etc.
  • Sitting at red lights or stop signs for longer than necessary.
  • Responding to traffic or road conditions with poor judgment. 
  • Actually losing control of the truck, either temporarily or permanently.

If You Notice Any of These Signs…

…There are common sense steps you can take to reduce the risk of an accident with a fatigue-impaired truck driver. Further, following these same steps when sharing the road with any commercial vehicle may keep you safer.

  • Always give large trucks the right of way.
  • Do your best to avoid driving right alongside a truck.
  • Never tailgate or cut off a truck—they have blindspots just like a car does, and even an alert truck driver with exemplary response time can only slow down and stop so fast—as noted above, that truck is heavy.
  • Drive at a safe, consistent speed, not speeding up and slowing down. Keep in mind that safe doesn’t always mean going as fast as the speed limit allows—pay attention to weather and traffic conditions.

Proving Fault In a Trucking Accident Can Be Difficult

There are many reasons that truck accidents happen, including things such as equipment failure, drug and/or alcohol use, weather, and traffic conditions, etc. Driver fatigue in particular is difficult to prove. For those reasons…

Hire the Right Attorney for the Job

If you’re involved in a traffic accident in which a commercial truck is at fault, hiring the right attorney gives you the best opportunity for a successful outcome. Hire an attorney with the experience, staff, and resources to guide you every step of the way and recover the largest settlement possible.

If you or a loved one are the victim of an accident with a commercial truck, contact the attorneys at LaSalvia Law. We will fight to win you the compensation you deserve.

Step 1


Step 2


You can expect to hear from Christine 1-2 days after submitting your inquiry.

Step 3


Pay nothing up front. No fee until your case is settled or tried to a jury.