Fatigue Negatively Affects Uber and Truck Drivers Alike

Many of us have had at least one long night on the road, fighting to stay awake before finally realizing it’s just better to stop somewhere and sleep. In those moments, we come close to understanding the dangers of driving while drowsy. Even so, it is still difficult to fully fathom the perils of this behavior. According to a report from The National Academies, about 20 percent of injurious automobile collisions are caused by fatigue leading to hundreds of billions of dollars in medical expenses. And In 2014, 846 deaths were caused by fatigue, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, the CDC asserts, this is most likely an underestimation. In fact, there are probably as many as 6,000 fatal crashes a year due to drowsiness.

Uber

With these numbers in mind, it should be worrisome that some Uber drivers are sleeplessly working for close to 16 hours, according to a report by USA Today. Uber has said that 7 percent of its employees work over 50 hours. However, the company lacks any policy that would restrict their drivers’ workload. As highlighted by Watkins, Lourie, Roll & Chance, PC, the market environment surrounding Uber is highly competitive, so most drivers are apt to take full advantage of incentives. This is particularly true considering the fact that drivers get paid so little, evinced by the fact that so many Uber drivers joined protesters last year fighting for a higher minimum wage.

Truck Drivers

Another similar study, found that truck drivers who are urged to work long hours without rest or who are asked to get a job done very quickly tend to cause accidents more frequently than other drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the NHTSA, who carried out the study, found that though prescription drug use was a major factor (accounting for 26.3 percent of crashes), fatigue was a contributing factor in 13 percent of the accidents. This isn’t terribly surprising, as commercial truck drivers are allowed to drive for 14 consecutive hours.

Unacceptable

These numbers are disturbing. Uber drivers and truck drivers should not be driving for long periods of time without sleep. Staying awake for too long can lead to behaviors that resemble inebriation. A person might lose full control of motor functions or lose his or her ability to react to external stimuli. In a paper published in Nature, scientists found that 19 hours of sleep deprivation produced performance impairment similar to that of someone who had a BAC of .05 percent. Similarly, they discovered that 24 hours without sleep produced behaviors generally associated with a BAC of .10 percent. In essence, sleep deprivation is akin to drinking alcohol.

Policy Measures

So what’s being done about all these fatigue-induced accidents? Well, sadly, not enough. The National Transportation Safety Board has made 200 fatigue-related recommendations across all forms of transportation. One overarching theme that stands out in the NTSB’s recent Most Wanted List is that of work-related accidents and the necessity for fatigue reduction programs that include “policies or practices to address scheduling, attendance, education, medical screening and treatment, personal responsibility during non-work periods, task/workload issues, rest environments, commuting, and napping.”

The NTSB’s recommendations have, for the most part, fallen on deaf ears. Looking forward, transport safety advocates hope that the Department of Transportation will intensify its efforts in implementing fatigue-reduction programs.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a vehicular accident caused by fatigue, you may want to reach out to an attorney with experience in this area. Having an attorney will be a boon to you and your family as you focus on recovery.