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Driver Fatigue and Crash Risks

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that insufficient sleep can decrease a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver’s alertness level. However, the researchers cautioned that determining the relationship between hours of service, fatigue, and accident frequency for CMV operators is complex. There are other factors that may have an impact on this relationship, including difficulty in objectively measuring driver fatigue, the invasiveness of trying to measure the amount and quality of drivers’ sleep, and other factors contributing to CMV crashes that are not related to fatigue or lack of sleep. The findings of this study also largely concerned drivers for large motor carriers, as opposed to drivers for smaller motor carriers or independent owner-operators.

The findings of this study, however, are not insignificant, given the fact that about 4,000 fatalities occur in the United States each year as a result of CMVs. Statistics show that 10 – 20% of these fatalities involve fatigued drivers. Work as a CMV driver involves unique stresses that put them at a higher risk of insufficient sleep and some chronic health conditions. These stresses include irregular schedules, economic pressures, and poor sleep quality due to uncomfortable sleeping conditions. The reality is that there is no substitute for an adequate quality and quantity of sleep.

The study concludes that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and/or the U.S. Department of Transportation should fund and conduct ongoing data collection concerning these issues. Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) should make several improvements in their data and research methods, which, in turn, should allow a more comprehensive understanding of the connections between driver fatigue, various highway safety regulations, and CMV crashes. Likewise, the study suggested the need for more driver and employer education programs to help improve highway safety.

We are the Wisconsin traffic accident lawyers to whom you always can turn if your loved one suffers serious injuries in a traffic accident. No matter how complex or difficult your situation may be, the Madison injury attorneys of Boller & Vaughan are here to advocate for your interests and hold negligent drivers responsible for any injury or death that has occurred.