Truckers need to be able to make split-second decisions as they are driving. Many factors can impact their ability to do this. Fatigue is one factor, and it is fully preventable. One issue that some truckers face is that the trucking company they work for has such tight deadlines that they don’t feel able to stop and rest when they need to. This can lead to them turning to other methods to try to stay awake.
There aren’t any ways to battle fatigue in the long term except getting sleep. Things like drinking coffee or rolling the windows down might work temporarily, but this will be short lived. In order to help combat the issue of drowsy trucking, the federal government has instituted the Hours of Service regulations, which force truckers to stop driving after a predetermined period. It also sets minimum 10-hour off-duty requirements to ensure that they are getting the opportunity to sleep.
Important facts about trucker sleep
The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep per night to function optimally. Truckers get far less sleep than this. On average, truckers sleep less than five hours a night. A person who sleeps five hours or less for two nights will have the same driving ability impairments as a person who has been consuming alcohol. If the trucker remains awake for 24 hours, the impact is the same as a person who has a blood alcohol concentration of .10%.
Long driving hours can contribute to trucker fatigue. Around 65% of fatal trucking crashes happen on long hauls, which are those that are more than 51 miles from their home base.
Regulations to reduce chance of fatigue
Because long-haul truckers drive many hours per shift to meet the mileage requirements they have from the company they drive for, the federal government cut down on the number of hours that a trucker can drive in a rolling eight-day period. It was once set at 82 hours maximum. Now, it is 70 hours maximum in that rolling period. Once they hit that limit, they are required to have 34 hours out of service.
They also have to ensure they comply with the daily limits set by the regulations. They can drive up to 11 hours per 24 hours. During that shift, they must have at least a 30-minute rest break. Even though this might seem reasonable, these limits have received pushback from people in the industry because of claims that they unfairly limit the wage the trucker can earn.
Looking into compliance with Hours of Service regulations is a priority when there is a crash that is being attributed to trucker fatigue. Victims of these crashes might find that this becomes a primary factor in their claim for compensation.