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Truck drivers work long hours, face strenuous deadlines and often have rigorous schedules. Is it any wonder that one of the leading causes for truck driving accidents is due to driver fatigue?
“Long work hours, without sufficient recovery time, lead to reduced sleep and chronic fatigue. That fatigue leads drivers to have slower reaction times and a reduced ability to assess situations quickly. One of the most dangerous elements of fatigue is how quickly it can sneak up on vehicle operators, be they car or truck drivers. Truck drivers (like most people) often can’t assess their own fatigue levels accurately and are therefore unaware that their performance has degraded. Too often, fatigued drivers fail to notice that they are drifting between lanes.” Source
Nearly 4,000 people die in large truck crashes every year and driver fatigue is a leading factor.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) put together the following list of tips and facts to help drivers understand and better manage fatigue.
Did You Know … A study by the FMCSA found that driver alertness was related to “time-of-day” more so than “time-on-task.” Most people are less alert at night, especially after midnight. This drowsiness may be enhanced if you have been on the road for an extended period.
Did You Know … A recent study conducted on the sleeping and driving habits of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers concluded that an unhealthy lifestyle, long working hours, and sleeping problems were the main causes of drivers falling asleep while driving.
Did You Know … Naps aimed at preventing drowsiness are generally more effective in maintaining a driver’s performance than naps taken when a person is already drowsy.
Did You Know … Cold pills are one of the most common medicines that may make you drowsy. If you must drive with a cold, it is safer to suffer from the cold than drive under the effects of the medicine.
Did You Know … Research has indicated that being awake for 18 hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent, which is legally intoxicated and leaves you at equal risk for a crash.
Did You Know … It takes several minutes for caffeine to get into your system and deliver the energy boost you need. If you are tired when you first drink a caffeinated drink, it may not take effect as quickly as you expect, and, if you are a regular caffeine drinker, the effect might be much smaller.
Because of the number of fatigue-related accidents, the FMCSA made changes to the rules regarding truck driver fatigue.
The new rules, effective July 1, 2013, limit truck drivers’ average work week to 70 hours to ensure that all drivers have adequate rest. The FMCSA estimates that these safety regulations will save 19 lives and prevent approximately 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year.
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Past results afford no guarantee of future results and each case is different and is judged on its own merits.