People tend to plan for a long time before they head out on a road trip that is going to span hundreds or thousands of miles. For many, one component of the plan is ensuring you get enough sleep the night before the trip.
While you might be able to do this when you are traveling for leisure, semitruck drivers may not be able to do the same. These truckers are often forced to drive long hours on shifts that meet only the minimal requirements for rest. This could lead to fatigued truckers sharing the road with other drivers.
Caused by more than lack of sleep
People falsely assume that only lack of sleep can cause fatigue. While it is true that fatigue is a contributing factor, other factors like medical conditions, can also contribute. Even road conditions, such as driving along familiar or monotonous roads, might lead to a trucker feeling fatigued. Some people have to drive at night when most people are sleeping. This can lead to something akin to highway hypnosis, which could lead to the trucker being in a trance-like state.
Regulations address the issue
The federal government has regulations in effect to help prevent trucker fatigue. The Hours of Service regulations set strict driving limits on a daily basis and a rolling seven to eight day basis. These regulations address not only the number of hours these individuals can drive, but also how many hours into a shift that involves non-driving work the trucker can operate the vehicle. Strict requirements for rest periods between shifts must be complied with.
In an effort to ensure compliance, the government requires truckers to keep log books with how many hours they work and drive. These used to be kept on paper, but the industry is transitioning over to electronic records.
Trucking companies might be to blame
One of the challenges that truckers face is that their parent companies often promise deliveries that border on unrealistic. Trucking companies must ensure that they are balancing the need to provide customer service a notch above the other companies with the need to keep truckers safe. People who drive trucks have to be given the power to determine when they need to rest, even if it means that they have to delay their delivery.
For individuals who are involved in a semitruck crash, looking into the causes of fatigue might provide insight into what led to the accident.