Truck driver fatigue is a leading cause of commercial motor vehicle accidents, yet it is not discussed as much as it should be.
Truck drivers work during a variety of extreme circumstances, so taking the wheel while feeling a little sleepy might not seem too risky initially. Unfortunately, the statistics surrounding drowsy driving prove that it is incredibly risky and dangerous.
Fatigue is as Dangerous as Driving Under the Influence
Many people do not realize just how hazardous it is to drive while feeling tired. In fact, drowsy driving is just as dangerous as driving under the influence. The dangers of truck driver fatigue parallel that of DUI, including:
- Delayed thought process and reaction time
- Impaired judgment and vision
- Shortened attention span
- Inability to make wise decisions
Causes of Driver Fatigue
Truckers are among the highest group of individuals at risk for driver fatigue. This is because they no longer have the luxury of taking naps whenever necessary. Instead, they typically drive the maximum amount of time possible mandated by the government, which is 11 hours. The nature of commercial driving is exhausting, and most operators work 60+ hours per week. Even when truckers are not working, it can be very difficult for them to establish a regular sleep pattern.
How Often Fatigued Driving Occurs
The CDC created a survey to determine how often commercial drivers take the wheel while feeling drowsy. The survey results were quite troubling:
- 7 percent of drivers admitted to feeling very drowsy almost every day driving.
- 34 percent of drivers said they have nodded off or fallen asleep while driving.
- 24 percent of truck drivers had at least one near-miss during a seven-day period.
- 12 percent of truck drivers had two or more near misses.
Tips for Truck Drivers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers were considered to have been fatigued at the time of their crash. Below are some tips that will help you stay well-rested for all of your trips and not become part of this startling statistic:
- Get enough sleep – If possible, do not while your body is naturally drowsy (between the hours of midnight and 6 A.M.).
- Maintain a healthy diet – Try not to skip meals, eat at irregular times, sleep immediately after a big meal, or go to bed on an empty stomach.
- Take a nap when feeling less alert – Ideally, a nap should last up to 45 minutes. Allow at least 15 minutes after waking up to fully recover before hitting the road again.
- Avoid medication that induces drowsiness – If you need a certain medication, talk to your doctor to find a solution that won’t tire you out.
- Recognize the signals of drowsy driving – Indicators of sleepiness include frequent yawning, heavy eyes, and blurred vision.
- Do not rely on alertness tricks to stay awake – Tricks such as smoking, playing loud music, opening the window, or chewing gum are not real cures for drowsiness and provide a false sense of security.
Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton Can Help You Receive the Compensation You Deserve
If you have sustained car accident injuries due to truck driver fatigue, Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton can help. With over 50 years of combined experience in personal injury cases, you can rest assured that you are in good hands with our team.
We have offices in Orem, Provo, Saratoga Springs, and West Jordan, Utah. Contact us today.