Truck Driver Fatigue May Increase Arizona Truck Accident Rates

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported that truck driver fatigue was likely a contributing factor in as many as 30 to 40 percent of all heavy truck accidents. In a study that was done in eight different states, the NTSB’s primary goal was to assess the role of drugs and alcohol in driver fatal accidents. Instead, the study found that the most frequently reported cause was fatigue. The Board believes that at least 31% of those fatal accidents were fatigue-related.

Fatigue Affects Ability to Perform

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) analyzed the three major factors that affect a truck driver’s ability to perform safely any time during work. All are fatigue-related.

First, people experience a normal attentiveness and sleepiness during the day. People have a natural sleep pattern needing seven to eight hours of sleep daily. Changing this pattern cannot be shifted without decreasing attentiveness.

Second, people who fail to get their normal seven to eight hours of sleep or stay awake longer than the conventional 16 to 17 hours suffer sleep deprivation and lose their ability to perform tasks. This problem is accumulative and is compounded by the disruption of the natural sleep pattern. Also, it takes two or three days of normal sleep to return to normal performance capabilities.

Third, is that the longer you are on the job, the more your performance declines.

Federal Truck Hours of Service Regulations

The Federal government regulates hours of service for truck drivers to improve safety.

Current Federal hours of service for truck drivers include:

  • 11-Hour Driving Limit: May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • 14-Hour Limit: May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
  • 60/70-Hour On-Duty Limit: May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
  • Sleeper Berth Provision: Drivers using the sleep berth provision must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.

Trucks Account for a Disproportionate Number of Highway Deaths

Even with these regulations, trucks account for a disproportionate number of highway deaths.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

  • About 5,000 people die each year in crashes involving large trucks.
  • 84 percent of them are not truck occupants.
  • 98 percent of the deaths occur to the occupants in the passenger vehicles in two vehicle accidents.
  • Large trucks accounted for 4 percent of registered vehicles but 11 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths and 23 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck crash, contact an experienced Phoenix truck accident lawyer. Attorney Nathan Hogle has the experience and the compassion to work with you after a tragic accident. He may be able to help you recover damages.

The Law Offices of Nathan Hogle is located in Mesa, Arizona, and handles cases throughout Maricopa County, including Gilbert, Chandler, Phoenix, Queen Creek, Tempe, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Cave Creek, Fountain Hills, Ahwatukee, Apache Junction, Anthem, Glendale, El Mirage, Tolleson, Goodyear, Avondale, Litchfield Park, Peoria, Surprise, Sun City and Buckeye.