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Why is trucker fatigue such a concerning safety issue?

On Behalf of | Jan 1, 2024 | Semi/Tractor-Trailer Accidents

Trucker fatigue is a critical issue on the roads, impacting truck drivers and other travelers. The nature of long-haul trucking often leads to extended hours behind the wheel, contributing to tiredness and reduced alertness.

Consider these possible causes, applicable regulations and dangers of trucker fatigue when familiarizing yourself with why this issue is so critical to the safety of all.

Causes of trucker fatigue

Trucker fatigue is primarily caused by long hours of continuous driving, irregular work schedules and the pressure to meet tight delivery deadlines. The monotonous nature of long-distance driving can also contribute to fatigue, as it reduces mental stimulation and can lead to drowsiness. Additionally, inadequate rest, poor sleep quality and medical conditions like sleep apnea can exacerbate the issue.

Hours of service regulations

The transportation industry is governed by hours of service regulations to combat fatigue. These rules limit the number of hours truckers can drive in a given period and mandate rest breaks and off-duty time. For example, truck drivers are typically allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Despite these regulations, compliance can be challenging to monitor, and some drivers may feel pressured to bend these rules to meet deadlines.

Dangers of fatigue

The dangers of trucker fatigue can’t be overstated. Fatigue impairs reaction time, decision-making abilities and overall alertness. A semitruck moving at 55 miles per hour covers the length of a football field in just 5 seconds, leaving very little room for error. In a state of fatigue, a driver’s ability to react quickly to sudden changes on the road is significantly compromised, increasing the risk of accidents.

Temporary measures don’t work

Temporary measures like drinking coffee or listening to loud music provide only short-lived relief from drowsiness and don’t address the underlying causes of fatigue. These methods might momentarily ward off sleepiness, but they don’t restore alertness or reverse the effects of long hours of driving. Reliance on such measures can result in a false sense of security, potentially leading to even more dangerous situations.

Fatigued truckers can cause serious crashes that lead to catastrophic injuries. Crash victims may opt to pursue a claim for compensation to help cover the costs of their injuries, provided that they weren’t primarily at fault for what occurred.

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