Driving a truck is a physically demanding job that requires following a tight schedule. When drivers become fatigued, their response time decreases, and the risk of an accident increases.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 13% of truck accidents involve a drowsy truck driver.
What factors contribute to driver fatigue?
Poor sleep is a common cause of drowsy driving. The FMCSA reports that one-third of truck drivers have sleep apnea, a condition that disrupts sleep and causes fatigue. Some drivers cope by using sleep medication, which can cause drowsiness.
Tight schedules can lead drivers to overexert themselves and skip rest breaks. Federal regulations require breaks and limit driving time. However, numerous factors can delay travel, prompting drivers to skip breaks or stay on the road too long to make up the time.
How can trucking companies prevent drowsy driving accidents?
Employee health should be a top priority. Educating drivers on healthy behaviors and the risks of drowsy driving can help reduce accidents. Screening and treating drivers for sleep apnea can help reduce fatigue and improve job performance, safety and quality of life for drivers.
Motor carriers can reduce the risk of a truck accident through safe driving policies. Long-haul drivers generally work more efficiently and safely in pairs. Carriers should enforce hours-of-service restrictions.
Technology can provide an added layer of security for truck drivers. Collision warning and lane assist features are no substitute for safe driving habits, but they can help prevent an accident if a driver becomes drowsy or distracted.
Truck driver fatigue can have deadly consequences. Motor carriers should take appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of their drivers and the public.