More Than 100 Years Of Combined Legal Experience

What should you know about fatigued driving?

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Fatigued driving is a critical issue in road safety. Often less noticeable than other forms of impaired driving, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, fatigued driving is a significant contributor to accidents on the road.

Lack of sleep can severely affect a driver’s reaction time, decision-making abilities and overall attention to the road. Accidents resulting from driving while overly tired can raise essential questions about negligence, duty of care and liability.

Impact of fatigued driving

Fatigue can have several adverse effects on a driver’s abilities, making it a significant risk factor for road accidents:

  • Decreased reaction time: Lack of sleep slows a driver’s responses to sudden changes or emergencies on the road.
  • Impaired judgment and decision-making: A tired driver may struggle with assessing situations correctly and making safe choices.
  • Reduced concentration and alertness: Fatigue can lead to lapses in focus, causing drivers to miss vital signs, signals or changes in traffic.
  • Microsleeps: These brief, involuntary episodes of sleep can last from a few seconds to half a minute. During microsleeps, a driver is essentially unresponsive and unaware, significantly endangering road safety.

Ultimately, the only way that a driver can combat those effects is to get sleep. Temporary measures, such as drinking coffee or rolling down the windows are not effective in the long term.

Can negligence lead to deadly collisions?

While they are considered professional drivers due to extended training, thousands of hours of practice and a higher standard of performance, truck drivers can also cause the most devastating of all motor vehicle collisions due to the relative size of their vehicles. While these drivers are held to these standards, the trucking company must enforce regulatory compliance regarding rest breaks and the cumulative time spent behind the wheel. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) notes certain provisions, including:

  • The truck driver may only operate the vehicle for a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • The truck driver must take a 30-minute rest period when they have driven for eight cumulative hours without such a break.

The hours of service regulations can vary depending on if the trucker is property-carrying or passenger-carrying. The trucking company must pay careful attention to the trucker’s hours of service record. Often, this is accomplished through the use of an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) installed in the truck’s cab. If the device is absent, not properly installed or has been manipulated, the company might be held liable for injuries resulting from a severe collision caused by a fatigued driver.

Unfortunately, New Hampshire’s comparative negligence laws might add a degree of complexity to your legal situation. It is crucial that you seek the guidance of an experienced legal professional as soon as possible. They can collect evidence, secure maintenance records and evaluate documents relating to the driver’s history.

Solomon Law Firm has been successfully helping clients with Personal Injury cases for 43 years. 877-LAW-HELP