Truck Driver Fatigue: A Highway Safety Crisis

August 23, 2016 by

Although they account for only 4% of vehicles on the road, large trucks are involved in 8% of fatal crashes. The US Department of Transportation reports that nearly 4,000 people die each year in crashes involving large trucks, and people in other vehicles account for nearly 75 percent of those deaths. 

Driver Fatigue: A Leading Cause of Trucking Accident Fatalities

The largest cause of traffic fatalities across the board in the United States is drunk driving, at 31%. However, in large trucks, a more common cause of death is driver fatigue. A study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that fatigue was the cause of 13% of large truck crashes, compared with alcohol as the primary factor in only 1% of trucking wrecks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates there are more than 100,000 crashes due to driver fatigue each year, but this is an even bigger problem when it involves large trucks because they are more likely to be involved in fatal crashes involving multiple vehicles and are more likely than any other type of vehicle to be involved in multiple crashes over time, increasing the possibility for damages, injury, and death.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented laws to try to avoid truck driver fatigue known as “hours of service” laws. These regulations mandate rest periods and limit the number of driving hours. To help ensure compliance with these rules, the FMCSA has recently updated the regulation to require electronic logging of driving time.

Truck drivers have an additional hurdle to avoiding fatigued driving: up to one-third of them have some form of sleep apnea, which can cause further drowsiness throughout the day and general difficulty concentrating. For all drivers (and truck drivers especially), getting sleep apnea diagnosed and treated by a doctor can increase everyone’s safety.

Signs of Driver Fatigue

No matter the regulation, it’s wise to be aware of the signs of fatigue, such as yawning or daydreaming, and pull off the road for some caffeine or a nap if you experience them. Also be cautious of driving while on any medications until you know if they cause you to be sleepy.

If you’re on the road with large trucks, watch out for signs of fatigued driving, such as drifting into another lane or onto the shoulder, tailgating, or other erratic driving. And remember to always give trucks plenty of extra space—because of their size, they have large blind spots and take longer to stop or maneuver around obstacles.

The Attorneys at Hossley & Embry: Helping Truck Accident Victims

Driving while fatigued in any type of vehicle can cause property damage, injuries, and even death. Those consequences are serious, but they can also lead to criminal charges or a lawsuit.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a crash involving a large truck, call the experienced personal injury lawyers of Hossley & Embry at (866) 522-9265 or fill out our convenient online form, and we will be in touch promptly. We will provide a free, confidential consultation to evaluate the unique circumstances surrounding your case and give you candid advice about your best course of action. We also have the resources available (including charter aircraft) to travel throughout Texas and the United States on short notice to investigate your potential claim.


Driving when you have sleep apnea. (n.d.). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from

Electronic logging devices. (2015, December 21). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from

Facts about drowsy driving (2007). National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved from

Hours of Service (2015, October 1). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from

National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2015, December). Alcohol-impaired driving: 2014 data. (Traffic Safety Facts. DOT HS 812 231). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from

National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2016, May). Large trucks: 2014 data. (Traffic Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 812 279). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from

The large truck crash causation study – analysis brief (2007, July). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from

Categories: Truck Accidents