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The Dangers of Truck Driving Fatigue

A very real threat to the road, truck driver fatigue is a major problem in the industry. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, "Nearly 4,000 people die in large truck crashes each year and driver fatigue is a leading factor." The vast majority of those deaths are passenger vehicle occupants.  Most trucks weigh close to 80,000 pounds, so it's easy to see why.  With the wide open roads in Texas, it can be a big problem.  Fatigue is the number one reason that commercial trucks are involved in auto accidents. Whether you drive a truck or an auto, the dangers of truck driver fatigue are very real.

Long Work Hours

Due to working long hours, many truck drivers suffer from chronic fatigue.  The average shift can range anywhere from 70 to 82 hours.  Research on the subject shows that this type of fatigue leads to poor judgment and a slower response time. In addition, people cannot assess their own fatigue, including drivers at the wheel.  The onslaught of this type of condition is so quick, truck drivers have little time to react.  This is often why trucks will drift into lanes, hitting objects or other vehicles.

Regulations

Clearly, rules must be established to regulate this issue.  It is the responsibility of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to regulate the number of hours a truck driver may operate, in order to avoid fatigue. In 2011, the FMCSA introduced a new rule that truck drivers had to take a 30 minute break every 8 hours, and they must work 70 hours a week, rather than the standard 82.  A driver must also log their rest times, and failure to do so is against federal safety regulations. Despite the fear of punishment, drivers will fail to log their breaks.

Dangerous Incentives  

It is expected that drivers deliver cargo as fast as possible, and when they are being paid by the mile, and not the hour, this creates a major problem.  Most drivers will over work themselves to get in as much mileage as they can.  This includes problems of speeding, side stepping safety maintenance, and working over the regulated time limits.