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Truck Driver Fatigue: What Causes It, and Why It’s So Dangerous

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Commercial trucks have ruled the road for decades. They are an easy way to get goods from one end of the country to the other. Some truck drivers only operate within one particular state, while you might see others traveling across the entire country every few days.

Part of why this business is doing better than ever is online shopping. As the pandemic struck, more people began to see there was little reason for them to ever visit a store in person again if they could get a company to deliver nearly everything they needed right to them.

Does the trucking industry and online shopping success mean that brick-and-mortar stores will one day go extinct? That’s hard to say, but one thing is certain. More commercial trucks on the road than ever before means there are more drivers out there too.

Some of those drivers might have to deal with fatigue in certain situations. That can endanger not just them, but anyone around them, like other drivers or pedestrians.

Let’s talk about what causes commercial truck driver fatigue and why it is so potentially dangerous. We’ll also cover what these drivers can do to keep themselves and those around them safe.

What Causes Truck Driver Fatigue?

Truck driver fatigue is so deadly because of how much larger commercial trucks are than the average vehicle. The typical commercial truck can weigh 80,000 pounds. Imagine what it would feel like if you’re out on the highway and something that large suddenly swerves in your direction.

You’d be lucky to escape alive. The unfortunate reality is that this sort of thing does happen all too often, with more trucks and drivers on the road now than ever before.

If a driver is on the road for too long at one time, that can cause the much-dreaded driver fatigue. There are specific rules set up to prevent any truck drivers from driving for too long at one time. They must pull over and get some sleep at some point or risk violating those rules.

It’s up to the driver to stop when you feel tired, but their company must also monitor how long they have been at the wheel. There are also regulatory agencies that should look at how long drivers are on the road. They must fine that driver’s company steeply if they discover that the company is not following the regulations.

What Else Causes Driver Fatigue?

Truck driving can also be a pretty boring business. If you’re in Middle America and you’re driving along, the road might look the same for hours on end. If you’re in the middle of a state like Nebraska or Kansas, there are stretches of highway where you might not see much of anything in the landscape except the road ahead of you for miles upon miles.

As a truck driver, you need to come up with a way to keep yourself awake and motivated. You can’t take out your smartphone and start texting a friend or playing Candy Crush.

Instead, you might try playing music to keep yourself awake and alert. Blasting music might be what it takes to keep your mind active. If you allow your thoughts to drift while you’re driving through a desolate highway stretch, it’s easy to cause an accident if you don’t see some car pulling up alongside you.

Is Fatigued Driving as Bad as It Seems?

As it turns out, studies show that truck drivers who drive while fatigued are pretty close to drunk drivers when you look at their reaction time. Drunk drivers who have had one beer have the same reaction time as a commercial truck driver who has been out on the road for twenty hours.

Again, that’s a situation that endangers the truck driver and anyone around them as well. If they get into a traffic jam or they encounter stop-and-go traffic on the highway, that fatigue can catch up to them. Even if they don’t plow into a family sedan going sixty miles per hour, they can easily tap one that’s in front of them.

A little tap from a multiple-ton vehicle can do a lot more damage than a fender bender. It’s a sobering thought and lets you know how much care a commercial truck driver needs to take.

Truck Drivers Must Be Responsible

Truck driving is by no means a bad profession. These jobs pay pretty well, and you don’t even need a college degree to get one. You can graduate high school, go to trucking school, and you’ll soon be on the road, making a much better salary than you would flipping burgers or working a retail job.

If you do decide to become a truck driver, though, you need to understand the responsibility that comes along with that. It’s the same as becoming a police officer and knowing you’ll wear a gun when you’re out there on patrol.

You need to realize that you’re driving something large enough that you could kill people with it nearly effortlessly with a small wheel jerk. That’s why you need to drink plenty of caffeine before you get behind the wheel and do whatever else you can to make sure you stay alert when you’re on your trips up and down America’s highways.

If you don’t feel like you can be responsible enough to do this sort of job, try something else. It might pay well, but it’s not worth it if you’re going to make a single mistake that can cost several people their lives.

Once you agree to drive one of these trucks, follow all the rules about how much you can drive at once and get plenty of sleep before you operate the vehicle. This is how to prevent yourself from making a mistake that could stay with you for the rest of your life. Commercial highway truck accidents happen every year, and you don’t want to add to that statistic.

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