Drowsiness is a symptom that affects us all. You could be a student dozing off in class, a commuter yawning on the highway or a nurse starting another 14-hour shift. According to the American Sleep Association, drowsiness during the day can decrease quality of life. However, drowsiness in truck drivers may result in much deadlier consequences.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates about 328,000 drowsy driving crashes occur annually. About 6,4000 of those crashes were fatal.
Feeling sleepy here and there is normal. Sometimes a shower and a morning cup of coffee doesn’t do the trick. Drowsiness is different. It’s usually a sign that we didn’t sleep well the night before, or the last week, and so on. Daytime drowsiness can oftentimes become overwhelming. The sensation could lead to falling asleep in the middle of the day, possibly even amid a task.
For truck drivers, this is quite a dilemma. Their job requires alertness, sharp cognition and fast reaction times. Unfortunately, truckers are also the highest-risk drowsy drivers. Despite regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck drivers do not always abide by the 11-hour maximum driving limit per day.
Truck drivers don’t always take breaks
Some people might be wondering why, and there are various reasons. Many truck drivers receive incentives for delivering cargo ahead of schedule. Younger truck drivers may take this challenge seriously, and drive longer than 14 hours a day to reach their designation.
The results can be disastrous. Lack of sleep affects a driver’s reflexes, which increases the risk of a collision. It’s extremely important for professional drivers to adhere to industry guidelines. Caffeine and energy drinks can’t replace sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. It’s important that truck drivers stick to a sleep schedule regardless of deadlines. Sleeping problems should be addressed by a doctor. Drivers should avoid operating machinery after a restless night.
For all drivers, there are warning signs of drowsy driving, which includes:
- Drifting from your lane
- Missing your exit
- Hitting the rumble strip
- Blinking frequently
- Excessive yawning
It’s always important to pull over and take a break if you are feeling overwhelmed by any of these signs.