Fatigued Driving Is Impaired Driving

At some time or another, most motorists have driven fatigued. Eyelids droop, attention flags and sensory input fails — it means you are falling asleep at the wheel. But whether you are driving a car or a truck, fatigued driving is impaired driving. For truckers, recent rule changes may reduce the number of deaths suffered because of drivers falling asleep at the wheel.

On July 1 of this year, rule revisions made by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in December 2011 went into full effect. Concerned about a rise in truck accidents and the poor health of drivers, the FMCSA enacted rule changes, including the following:

  • Long-haul truck operators are allowed to drive 70 hours in one work week, a reduction from the previous limit of 82 hours per week.
  • To restart the workweek, truckers must rest for 34 consecutive hours, including two nights with sleep between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
  • A rest break of 30 minutes must occur during the first eight hours of a driving shift.
  • Drivers and trucking companies can incur fines and penalties if regulations are knowingly exceeded by three hours.

According to the California Highway Patrol, 680 people were killed or injured in collisions with big rigs in 2010. While the FMCSA hopes these rule revisions will save lives by reducing truck crashes, the agency also hopes to improve the health of those who drive for a living.

Fatigued driving can be caused by chronic or acute sleep deprivation or serious conditions like sleep apnea that affect motorists of all types. If you are sleepy or have taken a sedative, do not drive. Also, be cautious around any truck or car driving erratically — the driver could be falling asleep behind the wheel.

If you have suffered injuries in a truck accident in California, seek legal advice from an experienced San Jose injury attorney.

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