Commercial drivers operate massive trucks for a living, so most people tend to think of them as highly skilled drivers. While they may have more training and the capacity to be much better drivers, more factors than just education or experience influence how well a person can control a vehicle.
Fatigue or exhaustion have direct, negative effects on driving ability and cognitive ability. Given how common it is for truckers to work long hours, they may actually have compromised abilities more often than not while at the wheel.
The effects of fatigue are shockingly similar to alcohol
You may not think that driving while tired is that dangerous, but research shows otherwise. The more tired you are, the less optimally your brain functions. When you have gone 18 hours without sleep, you drive like someone who has probably had a few drinks. It takes you longer to respond to changes in road conditions and you may have difficulty focusing on the road.
After 24 hours without sleep, driving skill drops two levels comparable to someone over the legal limit for alcohol. There’s also the risk of potentially falling asleep at the wheel, which could easily result in a collision. If a commercial driver falls asleep, the consequences could be fatal for someone else on the road that day.
Although there are rules in place at the federal level to limit fatigue to trucker driving, it is still a constant issue. Anyone who gets hurt by a truck driver driving while exhausted or otherwise impaired likely has the right to take civil action against the driver, if not the company employing in that driver.