Truck driving offers lucrative pay, benefits, and open-road adventures to many. But truckers face many problems, including putting in long hours on the road. They risk falling asleep at the wheel during long-haul driving, which could result in fatal truck accidents.
Fatigue is a common issue affecting commercial truck drivers. It can severely affect their safety and well-being.
This article will discuss the factors contributing to fatigue among truckers and how they can be avoided.
How Common Is Driver Fatigue?
Fatigue accounts for almost 13% of large truck crashes in the United States. It ranks as one of the top 10 factors for collisions involving large trucks, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (F.M.C.S.A.).
Our article on truck accident statistics is an excellent resource for understanding the need to prevent truck driver fatigue.
Factors Contributing to Driver Fatigue
Lesser than eight hours of sleep. Longer work hours. Physical activities and many other factors can lead to fatigue. It dulls the senses and impairs a truck driver’s reaction time. The result is accidents and severe injuries. Preventing trucking injuries begins with understanding the causes and effects of driver fatigue.
Tips to Avoid Driver Fatigue
Some trucking companies have adopted fatigue management programs to prevent truck driver fatigue. These programs combine technology, such as using an electronic logging device, with wellness initiatives. Wellness recommendations to reduce drowsy driving include the following:
Take a Short Nap
Truckers should take short naps when they feel tired or less alert. It is a good idea to avoid medication like cold medicines that may cause the driver to fall asleep. Drivers can also ensure that they get enough sleep by requesting a schedule that allows them to set aside adequate hours for restful sleep.
Power naps and fresh air during the day can also prevent drowsy driving.
Eat Healthy Meals
Truckers’ health depends on proper nutrition. The food you eat has a profound impact on your health, energy levels, and mental well-being. Due to the job’s demands, drivers should avoid heavy meals and snacks that exhaust them.
Instead, eat healthy foods like lean meats, vegetables, and fruits packed with vitamins. It’s also important that you make healthy snack choices like protein bars or yogurt.
Drink a Lot of Water
Staying hydrated can help prevent fatigue and improve your health. You should drink plenty of water. Consider limiting your caffeine intake. Limiting the consumption of caffeine is also important to maintaining healthy driving habits.
Educating drivers on the symptoms of dehydration can also help prevent driver fatigue.
Organize Your Sleep Schedule
Truckers need to get an extended period of sleep before getting behind the wheel. Trucking companies should allow rest breaks for drivers. Scheduling rest breaks helps truckers organize their sleep schedule so they feel well-rested.
Frequent rest breaks go a long way toward preventing drowsy drivers.
Get Regular Physical Exercise
Regular physical exercise can also be an effective strategy for preventing fatigue. Even twenty minutes of daily exercise can help the body reduce fatigue and improve health.
Resistance training and interval training are recommended for cardiopulmonary needs. Thus, incorporating regular exercise into a trucker’s daily routine can help prevent fatigue. It also contributes to better overall health.
Use of Mandatory Breaks
Mandatory breaks are another effective measure for preventing driver fatigue in the trucking industry. Drivers should take rest breaks during and between their shifts. Rest breaks help drivers relax after long hours behind the wheel. Most commercial trucks are equipped with a sleeper berth. Critical measures to prevent driver fatigue include the following:
- Utilizing mandatory breaks
- Implementing Hours of Service (HOS) regulations.
HOS regulations specify the maximum number of hours truck drivers can work each day or in a 7-day week. Some of the important regulations have been summarized below:
- HOS regulations limit a truck driver’s average 7-day work week to 60 hours. Trucking companies are mandated to give truck drivers 8-10 consecutive hours off depending upon whether they are property or passenger-carrying drivers.
- These regulations ensure that all truck drivers have enough time off to sleep and recover from fatigue.
- Truck drivers are also required to take at least one thirty-minute break if they have driven without any interruptions for eight hours.
Consider consulting attorneys for injured truckers if your employer violates the HOS regulations.
Prioritization of Health and Safety Programs
Truck safety research studies have shown fatigue can cause shortfalls in drivers’ performance. It also causes slower response times, attention failures, and poor judgment.
Trucking companies should implement policies and provide education about driver fatigue. Educating drivers on the risks and methods to prevent driver fatigue can help keep them safe. Fewer accidents due to truck driver fatigue make highways safer for all motorists.
A fatigue management policy should address scheduling breaks and training drivers. Scheduling should allow for adequate rest between shifts. Training, on the other hand, should educate drivers on identifying and managing fatigue.
Can Medications or Supplements Help Combat Fatigue?
Some medications or over-the-counter supplements can help drivers stay awake. However, they are not without risk. It is important to note that stimulants such as Amphetamines can be highly addictive and could cause serious side effects.
An American Addiction Centers study of drug use among truckers found that many admitted to using amphetamines. Amphetamines such as Adderall, Dexedrine, Evekeo, or Vyvanse can keep drivers alert. Doctors generally prescribe amphetamines to treat A.D.H.D. or narcolepsy. Do not self-medicate, and consider consulting a certified doctor to discuss any queries you may have.
Energy supplements, shots, or drinks may boost your body for a while. But after it wears off, the body crashes into extreme fatigue.
Due to the potential issues of drug use, the government strictly regulates the use of medications and some supplements. Moreover, truckers have to be able to pass an employer drug test to drive.
Consequences of Driving While Fatigued
The effects of truck driver fatigue can lead to accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Driver fatigue for truckers is a health problem that requires immediate attention.
Trucking companies have to comply with federal regulations. They should be using fatigue management measures to prevent driver fatigue. They could violate federal law if they interfere with your right to take mandatory breaks. A company is putting you at risk of injury if they aren’t providing safe truck driving education.
Need Help? Contact Hurt Trucker Attorneys Today!
Are you a truck driver injured in an accident where driver fatigue may have occurred?
For over 40 years, we have assisted injured truckers with personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. We provide all injured truck drivers with a free consultation to review their legal options because we believe wounded truckers should be respected and supported. We welcome inquiries from any truckers who have been hurt.
Contact Hurt Trucker Attorneys to schedule your consultation today!