Truck Driver Exhaustion: A Threat to Public Safety

If you live or work in the Houston metropolitan area, you likely travel the same busy roads and highways every day. It probably never crosses your mind that you may sometimes be sharing the road with a sleep-deprived, exhausted truck driver who is operating a massive vehicle weighing roughly 80,000 pounds.

Semi-truck accidents involving automobiles are often devastating. A tractor-trailer crash could change your life or the lives of your family forever. In 2020, there were nearly 5,000 fatal semi-truck crashes, the National Safety Council reports.

Why Would Semi-Truck Drivers Risk Driving Without Sleep?


Truck drivers transport commercial goods all over the country and are often put under immense pressure to drive day and night to keep American commerce moving and the supply chain viable. Tractor-trailer crashes can sometimes be attributed to a truck operator’s lack of sleep, tight pick-up and delivery schedules, and job security based on a driver’s ability to complete a run by a certain time. Specifically, trucking companies sometimes place unreasonable delivery deadlines and pick-up schedules on drivers who are just trying to work to support their families.

FMCSA Standards for Truck Drivers

professional driver in cab of his rig

Professional drivers must learn to combat drowsy driving.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides federal oversight of commercial trucks. The FMCSA guidelines say that semi-truck drivers can operate their trucks for a maximum of 11 continuous hours. Once a driver drives 14 hours in a shift, they must receive a 10-hour break.

These rules were enacted by the federal government in an effort to lessen the risks created by sleep-deprived semi-truck drivers. Companies and drivers that violate FMCSA guidelines are subject to fines for violating the rules put in place to keep truck drivers and other motorists safe and prevent tractor-trailer crashes from sleep deprivation and exhaustion.

Drowsy Driving is as Dangerous as Drunk Driving

Sleep deprivation and increased alcohol consumption have similar effects on drivers. Slowed response times, impaired judgment, poor motor skills, and tunnel vision are byproducts of both conditions. Tractor-trailers are massive vehicles and take longer than passenger vehicles to come to a complete stop, so a slowed reaction time behind the wheel of a semi-truck can have devastating consequences. According to the NHTSA, in 2020 633 people died in crashes caused by sleep-deprived driving.

What to Do if You Are in a Tractor-Trailer Crash in the Houston Metro Area

If you or someone you love is involved in a semi-truck accident in the Houston area, contact the team of professionals at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. Injury and Accident Lawyers.  Our attorneys offer a free consultation.