According to a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 13% of large truck crashes were caused by a fatigued driver. Driver fatigue can result from a number of different factors, including a lack of sufficient sleep, extended working hours or exhausting non-work activities. Regardless of what causes a driver to be fatigued, it’s obvious that drowsy drivers represent a danger to everyone else sharing the roadway.
As humans, our bodies go through a wake/sleep cycle every single day. This process is known as our body’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm sometimes referred to as our internal clock, controls our daily pattern of alertness. With insufficient sleep, the fatigue experienced during our natural troughs of attention can be even stronger. As you might expect, this can have unfortunate effects on a truck driver’s performance and alertness, which can lead to tragic consequences.
Tips To Help Commercial Vehicle Drivers Stay Awake and Alert
Make sure to get enough sleep before starting a trip
Take a Nap
The FMCSA recommends that a nap should last a minimum of 10 minutes but ideally should last up to 45 minutes for maximum energy restoration. The FMCSA also warns that drivers should allow at least 15 minutes after a nap to recover before starting to drive again. Research suggests that a short nap will restore your energy more effectively than a cup of coffee.
Avoid medication that can cause drowsiness
Many common medications, such as cold medications and allergy medications, induce drowsiness. Studies show that about 17 percent of commercial drivers reported the use of OTC drug use at the time of a crash.
Avoid reliance on “tricks” to keep you alert
Many drivers employ certain “tricks” that they believe help keep them awake and alert. These can include drinking a lot of coffee, blaring the radio, or leaving the window open. These tricks simply are not effective at maintaining necessary alertness for any extended period of time. In fact, the more caffeine someone intakes, the less of an effect the caffeine will have on that driver.
The statistics bear out how dangerous it is to engage in fatigued or drowsy driving. According to a 2016 study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a driver who has slept for less than 4 hours in the past 24 hours is over eight times more likely to get into a crash than a driver who has slept for over 6 hours.
When someone is injured in a commercial truck crash, it is imperative to consult an attorney quickly. From the moment the crash occurs, the insurance company and trucking company are investigating the crash and looking for ways to eliminate or reduce your recovery. It is important for your attorney to obtain any log books and other documentation from the driver to determine whether driver fatigue contributed to your crash.
If you or a loved one is considering filing an action, please feel free to contact Shannon Law Group, P.C. to schedule a free consultation.