Semitruck drivers are a common sight on interstates throughout the country, and most other drivers take no particular notice of their presence on the freeways. However, every truck driver faces a specific and daily risk factor that can affect everyone else on the road.
In addition to the obvious hazards truckers pose, with such a large vehicle that can cause accidents that are more catastrophic than those involving smaller passenger cars, there are more subtle risks that truckers themselves are responsible for. One of these is something that seems simple but can prove deadly: fatigue behind the wheel.
Truck driver fatigue and crashes
Federal law regulates the number of consecutive hours a truck driver can legally work. Drivers may try to work additional hours in order to deliver their goods faster. The rules are in place to try to prevent fatigue and drowsiness on the road, which can lead to crashes.
The most recent figures on crashes from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration show a 2 percent increase in fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses in 2016 when compared to the previous year.
How trucker fatigue endangers others
Although fatigue may not seem like a very serious risk, it puts other drivers in harm’s way. Like with any driver, the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel increases the chance of a motor vehicle accident leading to injury. Given the large size and weight of a truck, as well as any hazardous materials it may be transporting, the impact of a large truck crash can be much greater than that of a crash between passenger cars.
While the driver of a truck may escape an accident unharmed, pedestrians, bicyclists and passenger car drivers in a crash with a truck are much less likely to walk away unscathed. Truck driver fatigue is a true road hazard, and the FMCSA is taking active steps to increase driver safety through programs such as its Motor Carrier’s Guide to Improving Safety and other resources available at its website.