Take a moment and type “accidents caused by driver’s fatigue” into Google or your preferred search engine. This month alone, you’ll find dozens of news articles on serious accidents that were ultimately attributed to drivers experiencing fatigue behind the wheel. A frightening trend that you’ll notice within these articles, is that most of the accidents involved truck drivers.
Driver’s Fatigue in the Trucking Industry
Unfortunately, driver’s fatigue in the trucking industry is nothing new, but why is driving drowsy so prevalent in this industry? Simply put, more miles equals more money for most truck drivers, so it’s easy to point fingers and assume drivers are being selfish. Despite this, many truck drivers claim that money isn’t necessarily what’s encouraging them to take the risk of driving while tired.
Tons of drivers that have reported driving while fatigued simply don’t want to risk losing their jobs. Many companies allegedly urge drivers to drive through the night or drive long hours without taking breaks. ABC’s 20/20 ran an investigation on this topic, and their findings were upsetting. Even when drivers were reporting their inability to drive due to fatigue, the response from dispatch was often “get some coffee” or “walk around for a few minutes”.
Furthermore, the push for drivers to continue driving through the night, or take less breaks, is literally against the law. Trucks contribute to about 4,500 highway deaths per year, and for years federal authorities have been trying to ensure that truck drivers get proper amounts of rest to help minimize this statistic.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Driver’s Fatigue
No matter who’s to blame, the important thing is understanding when you are too exhausted to continue driving. Considering this, there are many signs and symptoms of driver’s fatigue to keep your eye out for while on the road.
- Zoning out or daydreaming while driving
- Slower reactions times to driving patterns
- Yawning regularly
- Impaired driving performance
- Becoming increasingly impatient
Understanding the difference between being a bit tired and driver’s fatigue is crucial to your safety as a driver. Truck driver’s drive odd hours and are always on the go, so it’s only natural to feel a bit sleepy from time to time, but recognizing those symptoms can save a life.
Tips for Avoiding Drowsy Driving
It’s easy for those outside the industry to suggest that driver’s simply get more sleep, and these accidents won’t happen anymore. For those involved in the industry, we know that it’s not always that easy. Follow these tips to make sure you’re well rested every time you hit the road:
- Make sure you get a good night’s sleep before you head out for a longer drive.
- Take quick breaks – 15 to 20 minute naps can do wonders when you’re exhausted.
- Never drink prior to hittin’ the road.
- Do your best to avoid driving during times that you’re typically asleep.
- Don’t travel for more than ten hours per day without getting a good sleep in at some point.
Staying awake and alert can help save lives!