Truck Drivers, Sleep Deprivation & Drowsy Driving
Sleep deprivation is a health risk that results in truckers to drive while drowsy. Drowsy driving causes fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and clumsiness. Caterpillar conducted a study and found that drowsy commercial truck drivers caused 1,200 deaths and 78,000 injuries on U.S. highways each year.
Factors that can cause commercial truck driver drowsiness include driving through the night, long driving schedules without rest, and sleep apnea. Driving drowsy as a truck driver is a serious problem because it impairs coordination, impairs driver’s judgement, decreases driver’s’ vision, and causes slow reaction time while on the road.
Negative effects of sleep deprivation to a truck driver’s brain:
- Memory loss: The brain recaps information heard earlier in the day while you sleep, so a lack of sleep negatively affects your ability to retain information.
- Mood swings: Irritability, argumentative and emotionally unstable is results of sleep deprivation.
- Hallucinations: When a truck driver does not get enough sleep, their brain has trouble performing basic tasks that results in views of objects that are not actually there.
- Poor decision making: Riskier decisions are made when a driver does not get enough sleep.
- Decreased attention span: When a driver who is sleep deprived loses their interest in the road, their vision because impaired and their levels of disengagement reach an all-time high.
Steps taken to prevent truck driver sleep deprivation and fatigue:
- In June 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration changed the HOS (hours of service).
- Federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations restrict the hours that commercial truck drivers can drive both per day and per week.
- The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that commercial truck drivers who were behind the wheel for more than eight hours had a twofold increase in crash risk.
Current hours-of-service (HOS) regulations:
- Truckers are limited to an 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour work day limit.
- Truckers are limited to a 70-hour minimum average work week when it was previously 82 hours.
- Trucks are required to take a 30-minute break within the first 8 hours of their shift.