Why fatigue is such a major concern in the trucking industry

Most adults in the United States don’t have enough hours in the day to fulfill all of their personal responsibilities comfortably. They may need to make difficult sacrifices, such as giving up hobbies or rest so that they can care for their children and fulfill their employment responsibilities.

The average adult in the United States likely has not had enough sleep in recent days and could be experiencing some minor mood and health consequences as a result of low-grade, chronic fatigue. Yet, for those in certain professions, fatigue can be a major safety concern. In the commercial transportation industry, for example, fatigue or exhaustion could very easily lead to preventable collisions.

Workers and employers seek to bend the rules

Transportation companies and the professionals that they hire are subject to strict rules regarding how long drivers can stay on the road. Unless the company applies for an exemption/waiver, there will usually be Hours of Service rules that apply that limit how long someone can drive during a specific shift and over the course of a week on the job.

There is even an electronic logging device in the truck that will keep a record of when someone has the truck on the road to ensure greater transparency when dealing with regulatory officials. Unfortunately, a quick turnaround time on deliveries will often be the biggest priority for a transportation company and its employees.

They might seek to manipulate records or find ways around Hours of Service rules so that they can stay in compliance with a client’s expected turnaround time for delivery. Individual drivers might either bend or break the rules to get a load in as soon as possible, while companies might over-schedule their workers knowing that they will have to bend or break the rules for their scheduled work tasks.

Drivers who have been on the road for too long without adequate sleep may have a hard time staying awake, making intelligent decisions or focusing on traffic conditions. It is only by getting adequate rest that drivers can undo the harmful effects of fatigue on their bodies and their driving ability. When truck drivers and their employers ignore these risks, others often suffer.

Those who have experienced a crash caused by a driver that they believe was too tired to operate their vehicle safely may be in a position to hold the individual driver and/or their employer responsible for the crash that resulted. Understanding both federal safety regulations and common safety concerns in traffic may help those involved in a semi-truck crash evaluate their options in more informed ways and in ways that lead to more favorable outcomes.