Given the amount of time truck drivers spend on the road, it’s no surprise that they get tired. Truck driver fatigue is a serious concern as it can lead to catastrophic results. Recognizing signs of fatigue, such as yawning or difficulty focusing, is crucial. The best thing truckers can do at that point is to pull over and get some rest. Understandably, you want to push through the tiredness and get your load delivered. However, nodding off for even one second while driving an 18-wheeler could endanger the lives of multiple innocent people, including your own.

How to Recognize and Prevent Truck Driver Fatigue 1

Here’s what you need to know about truck driver fatigue and tips to help prevent getting tired behind the wheel. 

Understand the Signs of Driver Fatigue 

One of the most important things you can do is familiarize yourself with the signs of fatigue. While yawning and feeling like your eyes are shutting are clear indicators, some other less-obvious signs might also indicate fatigue. For instance, Are you having difficulty concentrating, or does your mind keep wandering elsewhere? Are you restless or irritable? What about memory lapses, such as forgetting to exit or change highways? These could all be signs of fatigue that you should pay attention to. 

If you feel tired, truck driving safety protocols typically suggest you pull over as soon as it’s safe. It is best to inform someone, too, such as your dispatcher or manager. 

Tips for Preventing Truck Driver Fatigue 

Driver fatigue causes can include anything from a lack of sleep to more concerning health issues. If you’re a truck driver, there are steps you can take that will help reduce your chances of becoming fatigued. 

Adhere to a Regular Sleep Schedule

Understandably, this might be hard if you don’t drive the same routes. However, it’s essential to try and establish a regular sleep schedule. Your sleep environment should be conducive to getting actual rest. If you’re pulling over and sleeping while sitting up in your cab every few hundred miles, your body isn’t getting the rest it needs to function optimally. 

Take Regular Breaks

You should still be taking regular breaks (and naps, too) whenever possible. But your 20- or 30-minute naps do not replace a good night’s sleep. Getting out of your truck and stretching your legs every couple of hours can also help reduce fatigue. 

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle 

Eating well and staying hydrated are also challenges for some truck drivers. However, you can try to include healthy snacks from home and always keep plenty of water in your truck. Watch the processed, sugary, and carb-heavy foods. They can give you a quick rush of energy but also make you feel like you’re crashing shortly after that. 

Get a Health Check-Up

Get routine medical exams, which can help identify any health issues contributing to your fatigue. If you’re getting enough sleep and eating healthy but still constantly tired, your doctor might want to check you for sleep apnea. Other medical issues can also leave you feeling fatigued no matter how much you rest. 

Utilize a Fatigue Detection System 

Technology has advanced to the point where you can purchase a fatigue detection system now. Different products exist for everything from apps tailored for wearable devices to in-vehicle cameras. The use of one of these detection systems should not replace paying attention to your body’s signs and following the hour of service laws. 

Truck Driver Fatigue Laws 

Concerns over fatigue are so significant that federal regulations limit how many hours a truck driver can be on the road. Property-carrying truck drivers must not drive any more than 11 hours in a 14-hour shift. And they can only drive again once they’ve had a 10-hour rest period. The rules also limit how many hours a truck driver can be behind the wheel per week. 

Trucking companies must follow these rules or face significant fines. These laws exist to prevent truck accidents and ensure truck drivers have some protections in the workplace. Otherwise, many trucking companies would likely push their drivers to keep going. Take note that there are some exceptions to these laws for short-haul drivers and other specific situations. 

Should You Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?

If you suffered injuries in a truck accident, you could have the right to pursue a claim for damages. If the other driver’s negligence led to your injuries, you could receive compensation for your medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and more. However, pursuing a personal injury claim for a truck accident can be complicated. It’s best to speak with an experienced California truck accident attorney to better understand your legal options. 

Contact GJEL Accident Attorneys

At GJEL Accident Attorneys, we have decades of combined experience helping injured accident victims in California. Whether you’re a truck driver or a motorist on the road, you have rights if another party’s fatigue caused your injuries. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation. Let us review the facts of your case and help you identify all your potential legal avenues for compensation. 

Truck accident claims are complicated, but you don’t have to navigate the legal process alone. With multiple offices conveniently located throughout California, GJEL stands ready to assist.