Signs of a Tired Truck Driver: Avoiding an Accident Before it happens

by Andrew Mounier on January 3, 2013

Safe travel is dependent on multiple factors. The main two factors being your driving and the driving of the other motorists with whom you’re sharing the road. Especially when you are travelling long distances along the interstate highway system, you will most likely be travelling amongst large semi-trucks. The reason for this is obvious; the trucking industry is big. According to the United States Department of Labor, there were 1.6 million heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers working in the United States in 2010. That number is expected to increase 21% by the year 2020. The commercial trucking industry logs a total of about 415 million miles annually and accounts for around 11% of all registered vehicles, according to the American Trucking Association.

While the trucking industry provides a great service by delivering the majority of the goods we consume, driving along side of large semi-trucks can be nerve racking. Due to the size of the trucks and the amount of miles driven by the truck drivers, extra safety precautions are necessary.

The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Safety Administration provides clear guidelines that drivers should follow. However, one major concern is making sure that drivers get an adequate amount of sleep to ensure that they’re driving attentively. Drivers are required to keep a log book to record their driving hours and their sleeping hours and are required to provide their documentation to government inspectors upon request.

Here are a few signs of a tired truck driver that could assist you in avoiding a collision.

Driving in a zigzag pattern-

Alert drivers drive along the road smoothly and stay centered in the driving lane. Studies have shown that fatigue will cause drivers to move the steering wheel unnecessarily causing the vehicle to move in a slight zigzag motion.

Drifting in and out of the lane-

Gradually drifting through the lanes is a sign of impairment and/or fatigue.

Failing to maintain a steady speed-

If a truck driver is falling asleep, it is very likely that they will appear to be speeding up and slowing down sporadically for no apparent reason. This can be due to a reduced awareness of the cause and effect relationship between their foot and the gas pedal.


If a truck driver is following your vehicle too closely, they may be impaired due to fatigue.

Long reaction times-

Examples of this include:

  • Sitting for too long at a stop sign
  • Not driving ahead after a red light has changed to green
  • Slamming on the brakes due to a stop sign or red light.

Your best defenses against the dangers of sleep deprived truck drivers are to always wear your seat belt and to make sure you are alert while driving.

Other defensive driving techniques you can utilize:

Allow plenty of distance between your vehicle and semi-trucks. If there is a truck driver behind you on the road that you suspect is impaired, let them pass you and then make sure to stay behind them.

Use extra caution at intersections. Check and double check to make sure that there are not any vehicles approaching. In fact, optimizing hardware, like the some best trackers for fleets, would pay dividends in road safety.

Always remember that you can and should notify law enforcement if you witness what you believe to be an impaired driver of any kind. As a truck driver, you can learn an ocean of ways to prevent road mishaps when you undergo training like that hgv training.

If you have been involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer or large truck, seek legal representation as soon as possible.  Rode Law Firm is a truck accident law firm located in Oklahoma.  For more information about semi-truck/tractor-trailer accidents, visit the website at

Andrew Mounier
Andrew Miller (Mounier) is an experienced Content Engineer and Author. He has worked in marketing for over a decade and finds his passion in bringing concepts to life for the world to enjoy. He is also an avid legal blogger and currently working on a book with his wife about social entrepreneurship. He is a true Socialpreneur and finds that his goal in life is to be an agent for positive social change through both his writing and business endeavors.
Andrew Mounier
Andrew Mounier

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