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Exhaustion is a common factor in commercial truck crashes

Most people understand that alcohol and drugs can impact driving. Distraction has also been the focus of much attention in recent years, especially with the rise of texting and driving. One other serious risk factor that too often gets overlooked is driving while exhausted or fatigued, also called drowsy driving.

Drowsy driving is dangerous when anyone on the road does it. When someone operating a massive commercial vehicle engages in the practice, however, it becomes particularly dangerous. Commercial drivers being too tired to react or missing critical information while at the wheel could result in severe injury or even death for other people in the road. After all, all your safety efforts around trucks won't matter if the driver is negligent or asleep.

How exhaustion impacts your driving

Driving after being awake for 18 straight hours is like driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 percent, which is enough for some impairment. The legal limit for BAC is 0.08 percent. Driving after staying awake for a whole 24 hours is similar to having a BAC of 0.10 percent, which is well over the legal limit.

Of course, you don't actually have alcohol in your system. Instead, driving while tired makes you struggle to focus on the road and can increase your reaction and decision-making time. When you combine that with the already slower stopping of a commercial vehicle, that's a recipe for a disaster.

Law intends to limit exhaustion in commercial drivers

In order to reduce this risk, there are federal Hours of Service rules in place to limit how long commercial drivers can drive. These limits should reduce the potential for exhausted driving, but they can't eliminate it altogether. Drivers can falsify driving times in their log books or otherwise bend or break the rules to make a delivery on time.

Commercial truck drivers can only drive up to 11 hours after having at least 10 hours off duty. They also cannot drive at all beyond the 14th hour after their last 10 hour off-duty break. Additionally, they cannot drive more than 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. They must have at least 34 hours off duty before that time resets.

Exhausted truck drivers put other people at risk

If a truck driver is too tired to respond to changes in traffic or falls asleep at the wheel, other people could end up injured or even killed. When that happens, the people involved in the crash or their surviving loved ones have every right to pursue justice via a lawsuit against the driver or even the trucking company involved in the crash.

Safety should always be a first priority to those who drive for a living. When a bad decision, like driving while tired, hurts other people, the driver involved should be held responsible.

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