The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) worked together on a combined study of semitruck accident causes. According to their report, two of the biggest reasons these wrecks happen is that drivers are overworked and fatigued.
The study found that, as is the case with most car accidents, driver error led to more wrecks than anything else. Issues with drivers were cited in a full 87 percent of the events that were studied, involving about 68,000 trucks.
Reports have blamed many factors, including companies that hold unrealistic expectations for their drivers. This could lead drivers to log long nighttime hours behind the wheel, trying to make a delivery on time when they really should have been given extra time for that job. They could also get burned out from being overworked, and stress can make fatigue worse.
The issues on the road then relate directly back to that fatigue. A driver nods off at the wheel and drifts into oncoming traffic. A tired driver doesn't see that traffic has stopped up ahead and rear ends a passenger car. When a driver needs to slam on the brakes and swerve to avoid the crash, his or her fatigue slows reaction times and makes crash avoidance impossible.
There are many rules governing the hours trucks can drive and how much work they can do without rest, but these accidents continue to happen year in and year out. They're very dangerous for other drivers, as 80,000-pound trucks massively outweigh passenger cars. Those who are injured must know their legal options.
Source: KeepTruckin.com, "The Connection Between Commercial Truck Accidents and Fatigued Drivers," accessed Jan. 26, 2018