The Impact of Fatigue on Truck Driver Performance

Truck driver fatigue  is,  and has been an issue in many  fatal accidents . It is believed to have accounted for approximately ten percent of all fatal car crashes between 2009 and 2011. The safety of commercial drivers deteriorates easily when fatigue is a factor. These drivers have long hours driving trucks and their  work schedules  are irregular. To stay safe, many truck drivers take adequate  off-duty time and frequent short rest breaks while driving.

One study looked at impacts of off-duty time as well as  and short rest breaks on the safety of commercial truck driving. They found that when a driver increased the total rest break time, there were fewer truck-related crashes due to fatigue. In the same way, having more rest breaks helped reduce the number of fatigue-related crashes. Two rest breaks seem adequate in a ten hour trip. More rest breaks don’t seem to add to safety. The duration of the rest break should be about 30 minutes. The rest breaks shouldn’t be too soon after starting the trip because such  breaks would be less effective.

Rest time and scheduled breaks  improve truck driver and road safety.

Another study looked at the effect of fatigue on driving ability among commercial truck drivers. In 1995, the US Department of Transportation indicated that driver fatigue is a problem on the roads and that drivers of trucks affected by fatigue are a serious threat to the safety of the public. The study looked at classifications of fatigue such as physical and mental fatigue. They identified general and local fatigue, such as ocular fatigue, auditory fatigue and muscular fatigue. They classified fatigue according to intensity such as acute, sub-acute, chronic fatigue and weariness.

They looked at two groups according to various factors.

1. Sleep related fatigue—those who had a cumulative sleep deficit, and

2. Task-related fatigue—that which is related to driving time and vehicle use.

It turns out that the major effect of driver fatigue is that the driver becomes progressively diverted from the road and from traffic resulting in poor driving performance. The effects are similar to alcohol intake. They state that there are methods possible that can counteract and prevent fatigue.


I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Trucking Injury  Attorney with the primary accident information site on the web,  If you or someone you love has been in a trucking accident, call me now at 916-921-6400.    You can find out more about our office by looking at either Yelp or on Avvo, the attorney rating site.


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