Physical exhaustion and fatigue affects many aspects of our everyday lives. It affects our alertness, our cognitive skills, our thought processing, memory, reaction time, and even mood. Naturally, fatigue also affects motor skills, especially our ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
While no one should drive while fatigued, this is especially the case with semi-truck drivers because they are driving massive machines that can do a lot of damage. In fact, truck driver fatigue is such a safety concern, that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) has developed strict regulations and dedicated web pages to the topic.
FMCA Urges Truckers to Avoid Drowsy Driving
The FMCSA’s webpage, “CMV Driving Tips – Driver Fatigue,” says: "Fatigue is the result of physical or mental exertion that impairs performance. Driver fatigue may be due to a lack of adequate sleep, extended work hours, strenuous work or non-work activities, or a combination of other factors. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) reported that 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers were considered to have been fatigued at the time of their crash.”
Because truck driver fatigue can lead to serious injuries and fatalities, the FMCSA developed what are called Hours of Service Rules, which limit how much a trucker can drive without rest. For example, for property-carrying truck drivers, they cannot drive more than 11 hours at a time, after spending 10 hours off duty. The problem is that historically, truck drivers have been known to ignore these limits, thereby dramatically increasing the chances of a drowsy driving crash.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, these are the signs of drowsy driving:
- Heavy eyelids
- Trouble focusing
- Drifting from a lane
- Repeated yawning
- Trouble keeping one’s head up
- Missing a traffic sign or exit
- Difficulty remembering the last few miles that were driven
If you see a truck driver displaying these worrisome behaviors while behind the wheel, it could mean that he or she is driving while fatigued and could fall asleep at the wheel. Our advice is to call 911 and inform the authorities – you could save someone’s life!