Truck drivers must often haul thousands of pounds in goods to their assigned destination within a certain time period. Due to these demands, a truck driver may feel pressure to skip out on necessary sleep, breaks or rest periods in order to meet their strict deadlines. What many may not realize is so risky about this, is that a truck driver lacking sleep can lead to catastrophic accidents. When a truck driver is sleep-deprived, they may not even realize they are operating the vehicle in an unsafe manner. If you ever witness a truck driver nodding off, swerving in their lane or otherwise driving threateningly, it is recommended that you call police immediately. You may also want to reach out to a truck accident attorney Dekalb County GA locals rely on.
In this article, we delve more in-depth into why truck driving while sleepy is so dangerous to other vehicles in a question-and-answer format.
Are truck drivers trained in order to operate commercial vehicles?
Yes, in most cases professional truck drivers must go through training before they are permitted to drive such vast vehicles. When the body is exhausted, we may be forced to go through small periods of microsleep. Unfortunately for truck drivers, there is simply no training sufficient enough to battle microsleep. Despite advanced skill in driving, a truck driver still cannot combat the overwhelming biological need for sleep.
Tell me more about microsleep. How does this happen within the body?
Microsleep is an uncontrollable, short period of sleep that results in loss of attention, head nodding, blank stares or even eye closure. This often happens to those who are trying very hard to remain awake while performing a monotonous task. When a truck driver must operate a vehicle on long, straight roads for hours at a time, their mind can also become easily bored. A period of microsleep can last anywhere from less than a second, up to thirty seconds. A person who is microsleeping usually has no idea that this is happening.
Is the weight of a commercial truck a factor in car accidents?
Absolutely. The average commercial truck can weigh around 80,000 pounds. By shocking contrast, standard passenger vehicles can weigh around 4,000 pounds. The sheer difference in weight and size can easily be felt by anyone who has driven next to a commercial truck.
Are there federal regulations that enforce how long a truck driver can be behind the wheel?
Yes, there are federal rules which establish driving time limits for truck drivers. Unfortunately, a driver may feel pressure to break these rules in order to arrive at their destination on-time. This may greatly contribute to being sleepy while driving because the driver may skip out on rest breaks or even sleeping time. The federal regulations for truck drivers include:
- A truck driver cannot exceed driving more than 60 hours in a week duration.
- A truck driver cannot exceed driving more than 14 continuous hours within 24 hours.
- A truck driver can drive for 11 continuous hours within 14 hours, but only after taking a break for 10 continuous hours.
- A truck driver cannot exceed driving more than 70 hours in an 8-day consecutive period.