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Time of day may play a role in truck driver fatigue

If you are the victim of a crash caused by a big rig, you may be looking at a complex legal matter because several parties may share responsibility for the accident.

Your attorney will see that a thorough investigation is performed to find out what happened, but the early signs may point to driver fatigue, an issue that could have been sparked by the time of day.

Study results

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration keeps statistics related to highway crashes involving 18-wheelers and other commercial trucks. The FMCSA reports that 13 percent of commercial vehicle drivers were suffering from fatigue at the time of a crash in which they were involved, according to the results of a report called The Large Truck Crash Causation Study.

The circadian rhythm

The wake/sleep cycle having to do with the body’s internal clock is known as the circadian rhythm. This is a daily cycle that controls your level of alertness, and the cycle has lulls during which drowsiness is stronger. If a truck driver has not had adequate sleep, for example, he or she may experience these pronounced periods of fatigue during which the chance of a roadway accident increases.

All about timing

FMCSA studies indicate that crashes occur most often after midnight. Drivers are less alert then, especially during the first hour they are behind the wheel following a period of sleep. It appears that sleep inertia plays a part, meaning that there is an adverse effect on cognitive functions, reaction time, vigilance and short-term memory. During this period, the driver may be unable to resist nodding off again.

A danger to motorists

Given the size and weight of a big rig, a drowsy truck driver poses a danger to motorists. The 18-wheeler is probably going to win if there is a truck-car collision. As the victim, you should expect to receive full and fair compensation for any injuries you sustain. However, the truck driver may not be alone in terms of responsibility for the crash, hence the reason for a thorough investigation, which will most certainly involve many details including time of day.

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