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Fatigued trucking must be better addressed

The average adult requires seven to nine hours of sleep per night. On average, truckers in this country average fewer than five hours of sleep per night. This is causing a serious hazard for people who share the roadways with them.

One out of four truckers report that they have fallen asleep behind the wheel of their rig within the month prior to completing the survey. Around 65% of fatal trucking crashes happen on long hauls that are more than 51 miles from the trucker's home base.

Sleep loss leads to impairment

A driver's ability to drive safely is reduced if the person sleeps fewer than five hours per night on two nights. Since truckers average less than this amount of time per night, it is reasonable to assume that trucker fatigue is a serious problem that must be addressed.

The government has tried to do this by instituting the Hours of Service regulations, which limit the number of driving hours and the total number of working hours that truckers are allowed to have per shift. These also require at least eight hours of rest between shifts. The issue is that these laws can't force the trucker to sleep. With only eight hours between shifts, the trucker is expected to eat, handle personal care tasks like showering, and sleep, before waking up and getting ready for the upcoming haul.

Truckers must be empowered

The issue of fatigued truckers falls at least in part on the trucking companies. Many long-haul drivers aren't empowered to act if they start to feel fatigued. Instead, they feel pressure to meet tight deadlines that might require maximum driving time each shift. By allowing looser deadlines and giving truckers instructions to nap when necessary, these businesses might be able to help make the roads safer.

These individuals can take certain steps to reduce fatigue. These include getting ample sleep before each haul and not taking medications that can make them tired. They can eat healthy meals and avoid trying to trick themselves into staying awake.

Victims who are injured in trucking accidents can choose to seek compensation for the financial damages. The trucker, trucking company and other liable entities can all be named in these lawsuits, so it truly is in everyone's best interest to reduce trucker fatigue before innocent people suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries.

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