When driving commercial trucks, drivers must be able to react quickly to protect other cars on the road. However, with long hours and a lack of sleep, truck drivers can be dangerous.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, fatigue contributed to 13% of commercial truck crashes.
What does a lack of sleep do to the body?
Drivers who do not get enough sleep have slower reaction times. They may drift out of their lane or off the road entirely, even while technically still awake. The purpose of the rumble strip on the shoulder is to wake drivers who would otherwise drive off the roadway. However, jerking awake and over-correcting in a tractor-trailer could cause a serious accident.
Fatigue affects drivers’ ability to stay focused on a task, as well. Truckers may become distracted more easily.
The body’s circadian rhythm is the internal clock. It is natural to have times of alertness and lulls in alertness throughout the day. When a trucker has not slept enough, those lulls can increase the effects of fatigue.
How little sleep is too little?
According to U.S. News, drivers who sleep less than five hours a night are four times more likely to be in an accident than those who receive adequate sleep. Drowsiness may have the same effect as alcohol. Sleeping four to five hours is the same as having a blood alcohol concentration over 0.08%. Also, if a driver does drink one beer after four hours of sleep, it can have the same effect as six beers would have on a well-rested person.