Sleep deprivation is a major safety concern within the trucking industry. Driver fatigue seems to be built into the trucking lifestyle and presents a serious hazard on the road. It is among the most frequent causes of trucking collisions. However, efforts to regulate drivers’ schedules in order to alleviate this problem have not been entirely successful, due mostly to pressures within the trucking industry.
Why trucks are riskier
When discussing truck collisions, it is not hard to see why they form a category of their own. In comparison to collisions involving passenger vehicles, trucks typically end up doing far more damage in similar kinds of incidents. This is because their large size makes them heavier, more difficult to control and harder to slow down. Therefore, even a truck driver who is fully alert and able to respond appropriately right away may not be able to avoid a collision.
How sleep deprivation affects driving
When a trucker is fatigued, his or her driving can be impaired in several ways. In extreme cases, drivers have completely fallen asleep at the wheel. Even a driver who resists dozing off will find it difficult, if not impossible, to counteract the effects of sleep deprivation. These may include weakness or impaired physical coordination, dizziness, blurred vision, slowed reflexes and compromised judgment. Combined with the unavoidable risks inherent in the size of a large truck, any of these effects can lead to an collision or aggravate the damage it causes.
What is being done to address the problem, and why it is not fully effective
Federal rules attempt to address this issue by limiting weekly work hours, mandating rest periods and requiring truckers to fill out logs to ensure that hours are not being exceeded. However, the trucking industry has fought back by stalling legislation and preventing enforcement. Fewer hours worked per week means less deliveries and less profits for trucking companies.
On an individual level, drivers can feel a lot of pressure to make deliveries on time. Frequently, delays happen that are out of their control; for example a road closure or bad weather can result in significant loss of time. They then feel that their only option is to make up the time from the one source they do control: their sleep. It is a fairly common practice in some companies for drivers to create logs that reflect compliance with regulations, when, in reality, many of these drivers are consistently working more than they should.
Whatever its cause, a collision involving a commercial truck can cause serious injuries. If you were the victim of a truck collisions, your best course of action is to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you get the compensation you need.