Many truck drivers are on the road for days. There are minimum requirements to give truck drivers time off to sleep and get some rest but drivers have ways around the safety regulations. There are a lot of “tips” and “tricks” for staying alert while driving. Unfortunately, most of those tricks don’t work. Drowsy driving puts truck drivers at a greater risk of getting into an accident and causing injury to others on the road.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Driver Fatigue
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has some tips for commercial driver fatigue. The tips basically tell drivers to get enough sleep. The tips specifically tell drivers not to rely on “alertness tricks,” because “behaviors such as smoking, turning up the radio, drinking coffee, opening the window, and other “alertness tricks” are not real cures for drowsiness and may give you a false sense of security.”
Driver drowsiness increases the risks of being in a crash and impairs drivers’ response time. Alertness is also related to the time of day with most drivers feeling less alert late at night. Nighttime fatigue may increase after many hours on the road.
Even taking a short nap can improve alertness. Ideally, naps should last up to 45 minutes but even a minimum 10 minute nap can be helpful. However, drivers should allow time after waking up before returning to the road to fully recover from their rest. Naps before feeling drowsy are more helpful than naps after the driver is already fatigued.
Drowsy Driving Involves More Than Falling Asleep at the Wheel
Feeling drowsy can put the driver at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. However, driving while drowsy has a number of other effects which can impair driving ability. Drowsy driving can cause similar impairment to driving under the influence of alcohol, including impairing:
- Accuracy of eyesight
- Ability for eyes to adjust to darkness
- Reaction time to sounds
- Reaction time to lights
- Depth perception
- Ability to assess speed
Unfortunately, many drivers continue to stay on the road even after they know they are feeling tired or distracted. Signs of drowsy driving and your body’s indications that it is time to take a rest include:
- Uncontrollable yawning
- Not remembering driving for the last few miles
- Wandering mind
- Heavy eyelids
- Tilting head
- Unexpected honking from other drivers
- Drifting into another lane or over the rumble strip
Problems with Drinking Coffee to Stay Awake
It takes time for caffeine to be absorbed by the body to deliver an energy boost. Caffeine also only has a short-term effect. For regular coffee drinkers, it may not provide much of a kick and often provides a false sense of security. Too much caffeine can also cause insomnia, headaches, irritability, and nervousness. The same problems can occur with energy drinks or over-the-counter “pep” pills.
Truck Accident Injury Lawyer
After an accident involving a semi-truck, the injury victim may have no idea if the driver was violating trucking regulations and caused the accident. A personal injury attorney can investigate the accident and find out if the accident was caused by the driver or trucking company’s negligence. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a truck accident in Philadelphia, Baltimore, or DC, contact us online or call us at (800) 529-6162 for a free consultation.