Drowsy driving is a huge contributing factor to car crashes, but it is a particular occupational hazard for those who make their living as commercial truck drivers. An average of 13% of commercial vehicle crashes involve fatigued drivers. Long hours, physical work, and hundreds of miles of highway can be a deadly combination for all vehicles and passengers on the road.

If you or someone you love drives a truck professionally, understanding what contributes to driver fatigue and resultant truck accidents, and being armed with knowledge and tactics to tackle it, is incredibly important to road safety.


If you’ve had the unfortunate experience of being involved in a crash with a large truck, talk to our drowsy driving truck accident attorney. At the Law Offices of Jeff Green, we will review your case and work to recover the costs of your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. We fight aggressively for our client’s rights to obtain the justice they deserve.

Hours-of-Service Rules

For everyone’s safety, rules have been developed to limit the number of hours a truck driver can be behind the wheel, but those limits may surprise those of us who operate regular passenger cars and consider road trips of only several hours to be very tiring.

Truck drivers may be permitted to drive as long as 14 hours, with only 10 hours required between that shift and the previous shift. This type of schedule can cause anyone to be dangerously fatigued, and that risk to safety is compounded by contributing factors can increase that danger. While the hours-of-service rules were enacted to protect us from truck drivers staying on the road for more than 14 hours, even these restrictions have potential to lead to an accident caused by a fatigued truck driver.

Contributing Factors to Drowsy Truck Drivers

Several core factors lead to truck drivers feeling drowsy while behind the wheel. Below are some examples, along with suggested ways to avert disaster. In some cases, a choice as simple as avoiding a sugary snack can prevent an accident.


Poor quality of sleep and sleep disorders like sleep apnea can be major contributors to accident-causing fatigue. This is a particularly dangerous problem for truck drivers, who, by the nature of their job, lead a largely sedentary lifestyle behind the wheel every day, year after year. If you are not getting quality sleep and are always fatigued after waking, even after a solid 8 hours, consult with your doctor. Sleep masks prescribed to those who suffer from sleep apnea can help dramatically increase the quality of your sleep and have a dramatic, positive effect on fatigue.


The quality of truck drivers’ diet ties directly to how much energy they may have and how well they are able to concentrate. Road food is not always the healthiest, and it becomes tough to make smart choices when they have been on the road for what seems like forever and are extremely hungry. A solution is to have healthy snacks in the truck cab. They can help a truck driver avoid getting too hungry and depriving their brain of the nutrients and calories it needs to function sharply. In addition, packing a lunch, can help a driver avoid the temptation of fries with gravy and cheese at the truck stop diner.

Understanding that smarter food choices can translate directly to energy and endurance, instead of the quick fix of caffeine or sugar. If truck drivers avoid foods that will make them feel sluggish, they may also avoid accidents. It is important for them to pick wisely from restaurant menus. Even fast food chains, so commonly found along our highways, now offer nutritional guidelines and can help you make healthier choices.


Many types of medication, both over-the-counter and prescription, can cause drowsiness. When it comes to driving a truck, or any vehicle, it is important to understand thoroughly how a particular medication could impact a driver’s alertness. Truck drivers should read labels carefully and exercise additional caution when taking medication. Ideally, a driver will test how they react to the medication before they get behind the wheel.

Tips for Truckers . . . and for You

Warning signs of fatigue should not be ignored by any driver. When truck drivers spot their fatigue and quickly get off the road they can prevent accidents. The same is true for car and motorcycle drivers.

Make no mistake: you are putting yourself and others at risk if you continue to drive when you experience signs of fatigue. Monitor yourself on the road.

Here’s what you should look for:

  • Difficulty keeping your eyes open
  • Yawning
  • Lane drifting
  • Fuzziness about how far you’ve come or exactly where you are
  • Blurry vision.

But don’t rely only on how you feel. Many drivers can convince themselves that they are “fine,” that they can “deal” with what they are experiencing physically, and then persuade themselves they can proceed. Drivers should rely instead on numbers and statistics, which can’t be dismissed easily. How many hours of sleep you’ve gotten since the last shift and how many hours you have been driving are much more important than whether or not you think you “feel tired.”

Pay Attention to Indicators of Fatigue

Whether you’re a truck driver or traveling down the road in your car, you can make choices to prevent accidents. It’s important to understand that your safety can by compromised if your body does not have adequate rest, and to know what factors can lead to drowsy driving. In addition to understanding causes of fatigue, it’s important to pay attention to how you feel. If you are tired or experience any of symptoms of drowsy driving listed above, it’s time to get off the road and get some rest.

Further, do not rely on “alertness tricks” to try to cause your body to be more wakeful than it naturally can be. Drinking caffeine, playing loud music, and opening the windows for fresh air do not actually make you less fatigued than you really are. If you are experiencing signs of fatigue, pull over and get some rest. Even a quick power nap of 10-15 minutes can help recharge the brain and body, though 45 minutes is closer to ideal.

Understand that your safety can by compromised if your body does not have adequate rest and know what factors can lead to drowsy driving. In addition to recognizing causes of fatigue, it’s important to pay attention to symptoms of fatigue. If you are tired or experience any indications of drowsy driving listed above, it’s time to get off the road and get some rest.

Did a Drowsy Truck Driver Cause and Accident?

If you or your loved one has been involved in a truck accident, the driver’s fatigue may be a factor. Acquiring experienced legal representation that can help you understand your rights is extremely important. The Law Office of Jeff Green has handled many cases involving Illinois truck accidents and has a proven track record of success. Contact us today for a free consultation.


Our team is well-versed in the complex legal relationships surrounding truck drivers, trucking companies and insurance carriers. We know how to properly review driver and shipping logs, vehicle maintenance records, and drug test results to uncover federal or state law violations.

Our Peoria truck accident attorney also works closely with experienced experts and agency representatives in areas ranging from accident reconstruction to vehicle engineering to federal safety standards. We leave no stone unturned in our search for the truth and our quest for justice for our clients.