Truck driver fatigue is an issue of ongoing concern to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The FMCSA assesses truck accident statistics and offers tips to drivers to help them combat this common problem. There are many causes of fatigue but one in particular that motorists should be aware of.

Causes of driver fatigue

Commercial truck drivers are often on the job for long hours. They may have engaged in the strenuous work of loading the vehicle. They may not have had sufficient sleep before starting to drive. These are among the common reasons behind driver fatigue. Then, too, there is the matter of time of day when the body’s internal clock affects alertness levels.

About the circadian rhythm

The natural wake/sleep cycle known as the circadian rhythm affects everyone. It involves the body’s internal clock, which controls the level of alertness. There is a lull in the cycle twice within a 24-hour period: between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. and again between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. During these periods, everyone, including the drivers of 18-wheelers, are naturally drowsy to some extent.

In fact, an FMCSA study indicates that driver alertness is linked more to time of day than to what they call “time on task.” Lulls in the circadian rhythm are periods during which motorists should strive to be extra cautious when driving near large commercial trucks.

If the unexpected happens

Big rigs are large, heavy, powerful vehicles, and in a truck-car crash, the big rig usually wins while the motorist is often left with devastating injuries. Such a crash could happen at any time of day or night, but especially during the hours that represent a lull in the body’s circadian rhythm.

If you are the victim of such a crash remember that you have rights. Explore your legal options. While you concentrate on your recovery, your advocate can work on determining liability for your injuries and negotiating for compensation on your behalf.