It is dangerous to drive when you are tired or sleepy. We often struggle to stay awake and pay attention when our awareness and reflexes are impaired. Truck drivers are more at risk from fatigued driving than any other driver.
Trucks are heavy and large. They can be dangerous if the driver is unable to control the truck or falls asleep behind the wheel. Large trucks can weigh in at least 80,000 pounds and are 30-times heavier than passenger cars. This is unfortunately a very common occurrence. An Atlanta truck accident lawyer will explain the dangers of fatigued truck drivers.
Truck Driver Fatigue: The Real Danger
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, driver fatigue is responsible for 13% of all truck accident deaths. This is particularly alarming considering that truck drivers are limited in the hours they can work before being required to rest or take sleep breaks.
According to estimates, drowsy driving is responsible for more than 72,000 car accidents every year. These accidents result in nearly 1,000 deaths and 44,000 injuries each year. These numbers may be higher than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) estimate, as drowsy driving accidents might not be properly documented.
What Causes Fatigue in Truck Drivers?
Truck driver fatigue can be caused by many factors. Truck accidents are most often caused by:
A lack of sleep can cause fatigue and should be avoided. Truck drivers are required to limit the hours they work under both federal and state laws. Drivers must stop driving after 11 hours straight if the shift is followed by at least 10 hours off. Truck drivers must limit their service hours to 60 hours per week and not exceed 70 hours within an eight-day period.
Drowsiness can be caused by many medications. Even if the medication is not listed as non-drowsy, some medications can cause sleepiness. Truck drivers should be aware of any medical conditions or medications they may take. Avoid driving during peak hours if you are taking any medication that can cause drowsiness. Despite the fact that it is not something we enjoy doing, driving with flu symptoms is safer than driving on medication.
Driving under the Influence
Drunkenness can be caused by alcohol consumption and certain drugs, both prescription and non-prescription. Drinking alcohol can make you sleepy and may even cause fatigue. Although truck drivers are forbidden from driving while under the influence or drugs, many still try to do so.
Driving performance can be affected by your overall health and well-being. This can lead to fatigue and even drowsiness. Studies show that a combination of unhealthy lifestyles, long working hours and a lack of sleep can increase the likelihood of falling asleep while driving.
Tips to Avoid Driver Fatigue
We now know what causes fatigue in truck drivers. Let’s look at what we can do to stop it happening. The FMCSA recommends that you do the following:
- Sleep well before you drive
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Avoid drinking and using drugs
- If you feel tired, take a nap
- Avoid taking medications that can make you sleepy
- Recognize signs of drowsiness, and take immediate action
- Stay awake! Don’t depend on alertness tricks
- Avoid stimulants or medications that claim to alert you.
Truck drivers should follow all federal and state guidelines regarding hours of service. Truck drivers should exercise their best judgement if they feel tired or fatigued. Truck drivers who are tired can pose a risk to their lives and the safety of others. However, fatigue can be avoided.
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