Commercial truck drivers help keep our economy on track by transporting goods across the country. However, the long hours on the road can lead to a significant problem: truck driver fatigue.
While driving while fatigued creates risks for the professional doing it, the act also unnecessarily endangers everyone else on the roadway.
Contributors to truck driver fatigue
A primary factor contributing to truck driver fatigue is the long hours on the road. Federal regulations limit the number of hours a truck driver can work in a single shift, but violations still occur. Drivers who push the limits of these regulations are more likely to experience fatigue, increasing the risk of accidents.
Truck drivers also work irregular schedules, which can disrupt their natural sleep patterns. Irregular sleep, in turn, leads to sleep deprivation. This can cause a driver to nod off at the wheel, especially during late-night or early-morning hours. The nature of long-haul trucking often involves driving on monotonous, straight highways for extended periods. The lack of variety in the road and surroundings can lead to drowsiness and decreased alertness.
Many truck drivers also face immense pressure to meet delivery deadlines. This can result in drivers sacrificing sleep and rest in favor of meeting their schedule.
Consequences of truck driver fatigue
When truck drivers succumb to fatigue, the consequences can be severe. Fatigued drivers are more likely to make mistakes, such as failing to react to sudden obstacles or misjudging distances. These errors can result in dangerous collisions, often with devastating consequences for everyone involved.
Research shows that about 64% of truck drivers admit to driving while fatigued. Combatting this dangerous behavior requires better enforcement of hours-of-service regulations, more education and increased awareness for truck drivers about the risks of fatigue.