Truckers spend inordinately long hours behind the wheels on long-haul routes across dreary highways. The race to meet constant tight deadlines adds further to the already challenging conditions. These tough working conditions combined with their tight schedules lead to truckers spending more time on the road than they ideally should, making them prone to exhaustion, burnouts, and truck accidents.
A Harvard School of Medicine study showed that almost half of the truck drivers admitted to falling asleep while driving at one point in time or another, especially over long distances. To overcome fatigue and lethargy, most of the truckers also admitted taking stimulants like energy drinks, caffeine, and even drugs in some cases.
Signs of Drowsy Driving
There are some easily discernible signs of drowsy driving that you need to identify to protect yourself or a loved one. Try to recognize these signs to prevent accidents when you are on the road. Some of these signs are:
- Drifting aimlessly across the lanes
- Blinking or yawning frequently
- Repeatedly forgetting to take the exits
- Memory lapses
- Swaying onto the shoulder of the road
If you see a driver showing any of the above signs or is unable to stay in their lane, try to create a distance from the vehicle and remain alert. Such drivers could be fatigued, drowsy, or inebriated.
The best thing to do in such a situation is to drop back by slowing down, and if you must pass, do so with extreme caution. If you think the other driver is being excessively reckless and could put other road users’ lives in jeopardy, pull over and safely inform the police as soon as you can.
Reasons for Trucker Fatigue and Drowsy Driving
The two main reasons for a trucker to feel drowsy and lethargic while driving are lack of sufficient sleep and driving non-stop for long durations without taking a break.
As per the law, truck drivers are allowed to drive for 11 consecutive hours after at least 10 hours of continuous rest. Driving a big commercial truck is extremely strenuous and it is normal for fatigue to set in after such long hours behind the wheel.
Some other factors, that typically add to driver fatigue are:
Any ailment, whether an infection, flu, or a common cold, can lead to a truck driver craving for sleep and rest. If the unreasonable schedule does not allow a truck driver any time to rest, it may result in more fatigue, exhaustion, and sleepiness.
Medication taken for any ailment may induce more drowsiness in the trucker. If they keep driving under these kinds of circumstances, it will increase the chances of an accident.
It is not a hidden fact that alcohol abuse is widespread among truckers anywhere in the world, and more so in the United States. Alcohol or drug-induced intoxication increases fatigue and drowsiness behind the wheel, besides being a hazard for other road users.
- Sleep Deprivation
Truck drivers on long-haul routes usually drive during the night and sleep in the day. This unnatural sleeping pattern disrupts the natural circadian rhythm of the human body. Driving for long periods due to the unreasonable pressures of delivery deadlines reduces the levels of alertness needed to drive a big truck.
Impact of Trucker Fatigue
Most truckers get paid by the mile instead of the number of hours behind the wheel. This encourages them to drive even when they are drowsy and fatigued. Furthermore, the unrealistic pressure of impractical deadlines also forces them to drive for unreasonably long hours. Let us discuss the impact of fatigue on a truck driver’s performance:
- Impact on Concentration
According to numerous studies, maintaining the required focus on the road can become extremely challenging while the trucker is struggling to fight drowsiness.
- Impact on Alertness
Response times and reflexes are drastically curtailed due to drowsiness and fatigue while driving. Reflexes and response times of a drowsy driver are akin to an intoxicated one, hampering their ability to react adequately quickly to any threat or emergency on the road.
- Impact on Observation
A drowsy truck driver can have difficulty in observing and responding to changes in traffic patterns, speed limits, and traffic signals. A sharp decline in response and reaction time of a trucker can turn a multi-axle big rig into a major risk for other road users on a busy highway.
- Impact on Judgment
Truckers need to be quick in decision-making while changing lanes, maintaining speed, and approaching a signal. Drowsy truck drivers will always struggle to make judgments, putting their own safety as well as that of other motorists on the road in jeopardy.
Alabama Personal Injury Attorney for a Drowsy Driving Crash Victim
A seasoned Alabama personal injury attorney can skillfully negotiate with the trucker’s insurance company and allow you to focus on your recovery without any additional stress. The law office of Frank M. Wilson in Montgomery, AL can proficiently handle truck accident compensation claims and lawsuits.
As a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers, Frank has expert knowledge of the causes of auto accidents and the best strategies for winning personal injury cases. His law firm in Alabama had substantial success in this arena and has transformed his practice into one of the best Montgomery personal injury law firms.
To know how we can help you claim fair and full compensation, call us today at (334) 420-2931 or message us online to schedule a free case review.