Truckers and Tough Turnaround Times – Why Sleep Matters

Truck driver fatigue is a very real and constant danger on our roads, as the 2014 crash involving a Wal-Mart truck that killed comedian Jimmy Mack, left Tracy Morgan severely injured, and also injured three other passengers, reminded the world. Hours of Service (HOS) rules were created in an attempt to combat fatigue, by limiting the amount of time trucks spend behind the wheel and dictating mandatory resting periods.

But unrealistic schedules and the demand for tight turnaround times often means that truck drivers break the rules to earn living, and those who follow the rules are still fatigued because they cannot get adequate and quality sleep.

Why Sleep Matters

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 4,000 people die in truck accidents each year, with fatigue being the most common factor in those crashes. Fatigue decreases awareness, slows reaction times, and impairs judgment, among other dangerous effects.

It is a dangerous and deadly state for drivers of passenger vehicles. For those behind the wheel of a big rig, the dangers are greatly compounded.

Because of their size, large trucks require more attention and lightning-fast reflexes. It takes longer for a semi to stop. Sudden maneuvers are more likely to cause jackknife or rollover. And when a large commercial truck crashes, the results are devastating.

A Competitive Industry

The trucking industry is highly competitive. In order for truckers to keep their jobs and earn a paycheck, they have to be available, take loads whenever they can, and get them delivered quickly. If they refuse in the interest of safety, there is always someone else who will accept.

There is always a way around the regulations. Real change for safety will have to come from within the industry.


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