**The following is a guest post by Susan Tuck.
Truck driving is a physically and mentally demanding job. Drivers may feel exhausted on a regular basis and find it difficult to get good quality sleep. This increases the risk of drowsy driving, and can lead to dangerous, often fatal accidents involving truck drivers.
According to the CDC, commercial drivers, including truck drivers, are among the most at risk for driving while drowsy.
Simply being tired seems innocuous, but drowsy driving can quickly turn dangerous. Truck drivers can easily fall asleep at the wheel, running off the road and taking out anything in their path. But even when drivers are able to stay awake, drowsy driving is dangerous and potentially deadly. Drowsy driving can lead to impairments including difficulty focusing on the road, a lowered ability to make good decisions, and a slower reaction time. Any of these impairments can cause accidents that are particularly dangerous when they involve trucks.
How Truck Drivers’ Schedules Make it Difficult to Sleep
Truck drivers may not want to drive drowsy, but unfortunately, driving schedules can interfere with getting enough rest to drive safely. Trucking runs on a 24 hour schedule, and some truckers drive late at night when traffic is more efficient. Some drive for as many as 80 hours each week.
In recent years, federal law required truck drivers to rest for 34 hours before starting a new work week, including two periods of rest between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. These two early morning rest periods are particularly essential, as that’s when truck drivers need their rest the most. Now, federal law still requires 34 hours of rest, but the requirement to rest for two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. has been waived, putting many truckers back on the road before they’ve had adequate rest time.
Sleep quality is often a problem for truckers as well. Much of a trucker’s week is spent on the road, if not entirely in the cab of their truck. Sleeping on the road can reduce sleep quality, with truckers experiencing too much sound, light, or uncomfortable temperatures to sleep well. Although a healthy sleep environment is important to good quality sleep, truckers often sleep in truck cabs, which can be less than ideal. Other options include unfamiliar truck stops or hotels where conditions may or may not be conducive to good quality sleep.
What Happens When Truck Drivers Don’t Sleep
Truck drivers who drive while they’re too sleepy to do so can cause crashes involving injuries and death. Each year, there are approximately 4,000 fatal crashes involving large trucks, a number that has increased each year since 2009 and shows no signs of slowing down.
While there are many factors that can lead to fatal truck crashes, drowsy driving is one of the most deadly. Driver non performance, which includes falling asleep and other physical impairments, is the reason for 12 percent of truck driver crashes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study lists driver fatigue as one of the top 10 factors that cause large truck crashes, indicating that drowsy driving is a significant problem for truck drivers and everyone who shares the road with them.
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Tuck Sleep Foundation is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NPR, Lifehacker, Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.
Sabrina Wright is a vibrant young law writer currently writing her next big project. Her modern outlook on the law field is reflected on her informative pieces. Sabrina loves cooking and often invites her friends over for barbecue.
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