Have you ever lost a split second while driving? Have you ever tried to slap your cheeks to keep you from falling asleep on the wheel? Sleep is a powerful biological drive, and slapping your face, opening the windows, and blasting loud music from the radio are never going to be effective tricks to keep you awake and focused on the road. Truck drivers, especially long-haulers, suffer from these conditions every day.
In the end, because of sleep deprivation, stress, and depression, truck drivers find themselves needing a truck driver attorney in Washington or other states to face a variety of legal complaints and cases filed against them. According to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, truck driver fatigue is the cause of about 20% to 40% of accidents—head-on collisions and other minor road incidences because they fell asleep on the wheel and veered off course—on the road. In a report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety, they found out that out of the 1,265 long-haul truck drivers interviewed, 35% said that they experienced at least one motor accident during their years on the job.
Reasons for Driver Fatigue
But what are the causes of this sleep deprivation, truck driver fatigue, and stress that seem to be behind every accident that truck drivers face?
In the survey, 76% of those participated said that their deadlines are extremely tight and that they often need to work overtime to meet those deadlines. As a result, the truck drivers are deprived of sleep, and they often overspeed to reach their destination on time. These truck drivers were improperly trained or sometimes not at all. About 38% of those surveyed said that they did not receive training on how to properly face the road conditions and lifestyles of long-haul driving.
Effects of Driver Fatigue
The effects of driver’s fatigue are fatal to those in the collision course. Drivers of passenger cars, motorbikes, or pedestrians suffer serious physical injuries or fatal injuries when they get into accidents with an 80,000-pound truck. But it’s not only that, truck drivers also face serious health problems such as diabetes (unhealthy food in truck stops), lung problems (truck drivers are more likely to smoke and breathe in polluted air), fatigue (overtime work and long hours on the road cause exhaustion), depression (being alone on the road causes drivers to lose touch of their families), sleep apnea (sleep deprivation makes it harder for drivers to get a good night’s sleep), and stress.
Although truck driving is considered a well-paying job that does not require a college degree, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of the “constellation of chronic disease risk factors” that truck drivers face. In a story published on Business Insider, George Wilson, who has been driving long-haul trucks for 10 years, had to leave the industry because of health problems. When he started in the industry, he was less than 300 pounds. Throughout his driving career, his weight went up to nearly 470 pounds, and he developed diabetes and serious breathing problems.
If these concerns are not properly addressed, the industry may face a backlash and eventually fail. It is important for truck stops to provide healthier food options and adequate gym equipment. As for companies using these long-haul truck services, they need to provide better working conditions in terms of schedule and deadlines, compensation, and health insurance.