The trucking industry is an important part of commerce in Florida and nationwide. Semi-trucks crisscross our streets and highways, transporting goods for sale or industry. However, while trucking is often a necessary component of doing business, it can be dangerous. Truck drivers may be monetarily incentivized to make as many deliveries as quickly as possible. This could lead to them putting long hours on the road. While the federal government has regulations that dictate when truckers must take a rest break, these often go ignored. Hence, truck driver fatigue can be a component in an accident that injures or kills another driver.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that drivers are less alert during nighttime hours, particularly after 12:00 a.m. This is exacerbated if the motorist has been driving a long time. Moreover, truckers who take their rest breaks in the truck’s sleeper berth may suffer from something called “sleep inertia,” which affects their memory, reaction time, and ability to stay awake, among other effects.
In addition, one’s diet can affect one’s ability to sleep restfully and stay awake during the day. According to one study, sleep issues, long working hours, poor eating habits and lack of exercise were the primary causes of motorists falling asleep at the wheel. Also, some types of medications can make a person sleepy. One study reports that 17 percent of truckers involved in an accident had non-prescription medications in their system.
Truckers may think that a cup of coffee, a loud radio or keeping the windows open will keep them from getting drowsy. However, these tactics do not work. There are very negative effects from caffeine use, and that cup of coffee may not kick in as quickly as one thinks. Moreover, these tactics provide a false sense of security, which could lead to accidents.
In the end, it is important for truckers to be aware of the causes of drowsy driving and avoid them. It is not worth it to risk your lives or the lives of others all in the name of making a quick delivery. Those who have been in truck accidents caused by truck driver fatigue may want to consult with an attorney to determine what steps to take moving forward.
Source: FMCSA, “CMV Driving Tips – Driver Fatigue,” Accessed Sept. 10, 2017