Truck drivers who get behind the wheel fatigued can greatly increase the chances of causing an accident. By driving sleepy, it can decrease awareness of what is happening on the road. With long hours and the pressure of making deadlines, truck drivers may not take all the breaks required to drive alert and safely. Here we have answered questions about the signs and contributing factors of truck driver fatigue.
What are some signs a truck driver is fatigued?
Some of the common signs of truck driver fatigue are listed as follows:
- Narrowing of attention
- Difficulty focusing
- Head nodding, as if about to fall asleep
- Inability to keep eyes open
- Poor judgement
- A slower reaction time
- Zoning out
- Frequently wandering thoughts
- Consistent yawning
- Rubbing eyes
- Drifting in lanes
What is the main reason for truck driver fatigue?
Fatigue most often results from lacking quality and sufficient sleep. Until a driver has caught up on the many hours of lost sleep, he or she can cause a fatigue-related collision. By lacking sleep and driving during normal sleeping hours, it can result in an accumulation of sleep debt. The only way to come back from sleep debt is to catch up on the many hours of lost rest.
Are other drivers also at risk for developing driver fatigue?
Yes, any driver who is behind the wheel for a period of time that causes sleepiness and affects driving abilities is considered driving fatigue. However, some drivers are more at risk than others. Shift and commercial workers such as truck drivers, are around six times more likely to be in a fatigue-related accident.
How does fatigue impair driving abilities?
Fatigue can impair a driver’s ability to react quickly to road dangers and avoid accidents. A fatigued driver may lapse into micro-sleep and not even realize it, which can last for a only a few seconds. Even though this is a brief period of time, it is enough to miss a complete stop, signal, turn or lane change. A truck driver may crash into another vehicle, tree, street pole or verge off the road entirely. The most vulnerable times for driver fatigue are during sleep hours, between midnight to sunrise.
What factors increase the chances of driver fatigue?
There are a few factors that influence a truck driver to become fatigued, and are summarized as the below:
- How long the driver has been awake
- Time of day
- Quality & quantity of the last sleep session
- Level of mental activity
- Presence of an untreated sleep disorder (sleep apnea, narcolepsy)
What should I do if I see a truck driver driving unsafely?
It can be difficult for truck drivers to objectively evaluate their own level of fatigue. By driving on straight roads for hours at a time, it can cause not only drowsiness but boredom. Mental laziness can impair a driver’s response time when it matters the most in preventing a collision. If you observe a truck swerving or otherwise driving unsafely, call law enforcement before the driver can cause a serious or even fatal collision with another car on the road. If you are a victim, speak with an experienced attorney immediately to discuss your case.