Fatigue Measurement Issues and Research

The presence of large commercial trucks on the nation’s highways is important for the delivery of various types of goods, but fatigued truck driving is an issue that poses serious dangers to motorists in Maryland and throughout the country. Regulation of fatigue is challenging because a driver might comply with out-of-service mandates without necessarily resting to the degree necessary to promote safe driving. Furthermore, checklists that have been developed to assess fatigue can be intrusive, creating the potential for civil rights violations.

Several years ago, a fatigue checklist was implemented by officials in Minnesota to assess compliance with the federal regulation requiring that drivers not operate commercial vehicles while impaired by fatigue, illness or other issues. However, it was subsequently found to have violated the drivers’ Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.

Driver fatigue has continued to be a notable concern, especially with high-profile incidents drawing further attention to the issue in recent years. There are efforts underway to find a more objective approach to identifying fatigue. The federal regulation is an important tool in spite of subjective issues because it provides authorities with the authorization to remove a fatigued driver from service. Additionally, there are technologies designed for use in semi trucks and similar vehicles to track data related to eyelid movement and other fatigue indicators that may be implemented in coming years to help with avoiding crashes. Additionally, warning and automated response technology could help in minimizing the occurrences of trucking accidents.

Some of the most catastrophic accidents can be those involving semi trucks. If a negligent trucking company contributes to an accident by violating out-of-service guidelines or by ignoring inspections and maintenance, it could be named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by an attorney representing an injured victim.