How dangerous is truck driver fatigue?

Posted on February 22, 2019

Truck driving is a strenuous job. These workers often put off sleep and work extended shifts, so it’s natural when they feel fatigued. However natural it may be, this exhaustion can often impair performance and lead to accidents.

Drowsy driving causes about 100,000 car accidents in the United States annually. Commercial trucks are the most dangerous vehicles to get into a drowsy driving accident with, and unfortunately truck drivers are the highest risk for drowsy driving.

What is drowsy driving?

Drowsy driving is exactly what it sounds like – getting behind the wheel while feeling sleepy. Inadequate sleep or shift work are often to blame for drowsy driving, and truck drivers are likely to experience both.

Any driver can drive drowsy, but truck drivers are unique because they spend long hours on the road trying to meet tight deadlines.

Often, these workers are under pressure from their bosses to meet job performance goals, which can lead truck drivers to skip sleep. Some companies also offer bonus incentives for delivering cargo ahead of schedule, which often leads truckers to make unwise decisions.

Preventing driving fatigue

To reduce drowsy driving, motorists need to get enough sleep, which is seven hours for adults and eight hours for teens. As much as possible, drivers should stick to a sleep schedule.

The Federal of Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created an hours of service schedule that truck drivers must obey. They require commercial drivers carrying property cargo to adhere to an 11-hour maximum limit, only after being off duty of 10 consecutive hours. Drivers may not drive longer than 14 consecutive hours.

Unfortunately, due to the pressure from their bosses, many truckers ignore these rules. As much as other drivers can prevent their own drowsy driving, they cannot control the decisions truck drivers make.