There are over 5 million semi-trucks on the road at any given time in the United States. Over 5,000 people die each year because of accidents involving these trucks—the most common cause? Driver fatigue.
Why Is Driver Fatigue Such a Problem in the Trucking Industry?
Like any business, trucking companies need to make money. They make their money by shipping the contents of their trucks across the country as quickly as possible. This means that truck drivers need to drive thousands of miles a day, and they are incentivized to drive as quickly as possible because they are payed based on the number of miles they drive.
On top of that, truck drivers’ sleep schedules are erratic. The trucking industry runs 24/7, so they might have to wake up at 8am one day and 2am the next. To withstand this, caffeine is taken in every method possible. Coffee. Mountain Dew. Red Bull. Energy shots. Even caffeine pills.
The result of all this is truck drivers pushing themselves harder and harder on less and less sleep to get from point A to point B as fast as they can. Less sleep means slower reflexes and reduced concentration. They are more likely to be distracted and less likely to see your brake lights lit up ahead of them.
Federal regulations are in place to ensure that truck drivers get enough sleep to remain alert while driving. Basically, drivers must take a rest period of 10 hours for every 11 hours of driving. These regulations are easily bypassed, however, as truck drivers rest hours are self-reported and, for this reason, rarely actually spent sleeping.
Galloway Jefcoat, LLP is a Louisiana personal injury law firm that fights for victims of trucking accidents.