Truck-related accidents happen every day. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a survey and determined that the main reason for commercial truck crashes is fatigued drivers. For many truck drivers, falling asleep at the wheel is a terrifying thought. It is crucial that drivers appreciate that after so many hours on the job, physical and mental exhaustion will eventually consume your body. If a driver is not cognizant of their energy levels, they are creating a dangerous situation for themselves and the other drivers on the road. Truck driver fatigue continues to be a significant concern for trucking companies across the country. With that said, here is a brief overview of truck driver fatigue and some of the best ways to help keep drivers safe!
Defining Truck Driver Fatigue
Truck drivers need to realize that driver fatigue is not always in reference to being asleep in the driver’s seat. Any combination of drowsiness or inattentiveness is be classified under truck driver fatigue.
The Major Causes of Fatigue
- The amount of sleep you received the night before
- Your body’s personal sleep needs
- The time of the day
- The amount of time since you last slept
Pressures Of The Job
Truck drivers typically need to stick to a tight schedule. In many cases, they are given strict deadlines and are always expected to be ready to perform. Sometimes, this involves waking up in the middle of the night for a driving assignment or disregarding your health if you are coping with an illness. It is unfortunate, but many of the older generations of truck drivers treat driving fatigue as a part of the job. This is the kind of thinking that has led to several accidents over the years. When you pair a tired driver with the pressures of meeting deadlines, accidents are more prone to happen. The good news is that powering through fatigue is no longer the accepted ideology in the trucking industry.
Efforts To Keep Drivers Safe
An electronic logging device (ELD) can help take some of the pressure off of a truck driver. It makes logging hours a breeze. With these devices, a truck driver does not have to worry about filling out a paper log book after they complete a trip. Unless you have done it yourself, you can’t appreciate how time-consuming and burdensome it can be. ELD’s make this process automatic, so drivers don’t need to even think about logging hours and just be focused on making it to their destination.
In an effort to prevent truck driver fatigue, there are federal regulations that prevent truck drivers from logging too many hours in a given week. Drivers need to be given an adequate amount of time to get the rest their bodies need. The maximum time allowed for a driver who is carrying cargo is eleven hours (this is after ten straight hours on the road). After several hours on the road, your body is inevitably going to start wearing down.
Recommendations For Drivers
The following CMV driving tips are recommended by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Get Enough Sleep Before You Get Behind The Wheel Of Your Vehicle
- Be sure you get adequate levels of sleep the night before a driving assignment. If you are ever feeling drowsy behind the wheel, you are best off pulling over to a safe spot to get some sleep.
Maintain A Healthy Diet
- To keep your energy levels up, you need to maintain a healthy diet! It is important to realize that skipping meals will catch up with you.
Take Naps When Necessary
- Naps do wonders for the human body! A quick nap will drastically improve alertness and increase mood levels.
Avoid Medications That Cause Drowsiness
- The downside to a lot of medications is that they can make you sleepy. Before you take anything, check the labels to see if they have any warning labels that indicate not to operate any vehicles during use.
Recognize The Signals and Dangers of Drowsiness
- Some of the most common indicators of drowsiness include yawning, blurred vision, and heavy eyes.
Don’t Rely On “Alertness Tricks” to Keep You Awake
- There are all sorts of tricks that drivers use to stay awake behind the wheel. This includes listening to music, drinking coffee, opening the window, etc. Although these tricks can help, they shouldn’t make you feel safe if you are ever feeling drowsy.
Other Causes Of Truck Accidents
It is important to point out that along with truck driver fatigue, there are many other causes of truck accidents. Some of which include:
- Vehicle conditions
- Road conditions
- Weather Conditions
- How the driver was feeling at the time of the accident
- Driver performance/negligence
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