Truck Driver Fatigue
Information and what to do.
Studies by the National Transportation Safety Board suggests truck driver fatigue causes about 30 to 40% of commercial truck accidents. Operating a vehicle that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds makes it critical for a commercial truck driver to use the utmost safety and caution. While working long hours and with relatively no time spent outside a truck, many drivers are prone to dangerous mistakes. Exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and fatigue are common problems in the commercial trucking industry. The nature of the job, long, solitary hours on the road, tight deadlines, and pressure to reach destinations on time, lends itself to tired drivers. When a driver fails to act safely behind a 40-ton vehicle, untold damage can often follow. Personal injury attorneys at Murphy Law Firm know how to stand up for injured victims in fatigue-related truck accidents in Louisiana.
Why Driver Fatigue Plagues the Trucking Industry
Truck drivers are under strict guidelines regulating hours of service and the amount of sleep received. Yet pressure to meet deadlines or a misjudgment can cause them to drive longer than what is considered safe. While fatigue can affect any driver, commercial truckers are especially susceptible to this dangerous driving behavior. A number of work conditions increase the risk of drowsy driving in truck drivers, including:
Unusual Sleeping Schedules
Many long-haul truckers must work overnight shifts to make it to their destinations on time, Working at night and sleeping during the day is difficult for most people, as it goes against the natural sleep cycle. It can be hard to get eight hours of rest during the day when the body is accustomed to being awake.
Sleep apnea is a breathing condition that causes respiratory problems while sleeping, interrupting sleep and even contributing to health issues. Almost one-third of commercial truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea. A driver combating sleep apnea is more at risk of dozing off behind the wheel.
Tight Deadlines and Pressure from Employers
Some truck drivers feel the need to ignore federal hours of service regulation and keep driving past the maximum allowed driving time before taking a rest break. This could happen if the employer is pressuring the driver to meet a deadline or offering incentives to drivers who arrive early.
Poor Dietary Choices
What a truck driver eats, drinks, and does during a shift can affect how drowsy he or she becomes while driving. Skipping meals, driving on an empty stomach, eating junk food, or eating a large meal can all contribute to tired driving. Truck drivers should eat healthy, energizing foods at regular intervals throughout the day, and eat a light snack before bed for better sleep.
Substance and Alcohol Use
Being under the influence can also cause a driver to fall asleep behind the wheel. Even prescription drugs pose drowsy driving risks to truckers. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications warn not to operate heavy machinery after taking in case of drowsiness. It is up to the driver not to partake in alcohol, drugs, or medications before starting a shift.
There are things truck companies and their drivers can do to reduce the risk of fatigue-related truck accidents. Adhering to federal rest rules, taking naps when needed, eating healthy, exercising, seeking treatment for sleep apnea, and recognizing the signs of tired driving early on could all prevent deadly car crashes. Fatal accidents occur all the time big trucks. If you or someone you know has been hurt in a truck accident call the personal injury lawyers at Murphy Law Firm at (225) 928-8800 to learn your rights.