When you share the road with commercial trucks, you often trust that only skilled and attentive drivers are on the road. They carry the responsibility of operating massive vehicles that, if mishandled, can cause catastrophic accidents. One crucial factor affecting their ability to drive safely is the number of hours they spend behind the wheel.
Driving a truck for long hours, especially without adequate rest, can lead to fatigue and impaired judgment, increasing the risk of accidents. Understand the connection between driving hours and trucking accidents and how you can stay safe on the road.
How driving hours affect trucker performance
Drivers who spend long hours on the road can become victims of fatigue. Fatigue slows reaction times and can cause lapses in attention, both of which can lead to accidents. Moreover, night driving often coincides with the body’s natural sleep cycle, making the driver even more susceptible to fatigue.
The monotony of long-haul drives can also lead to highway hypnosis, a state of mind where drivers can navigate the roads without conscious thought. This state of auto-pilot combined with fatigue can be a dangerous mix.
Regulations on driving hours
To reduce these risks, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has regulations limiting the number of hours truck drivers can operate. Some of these rules stipulate that drivers cannot drive more than 11 hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty. They also must not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty.
Despite these regulations, some drivers or companies might ignore them to meet tight delivery schedules, putting everyone on the road at risk.
While you cannot control truck drivers’ schedules, you can take precautions to protect yourself. Maintain a safe distance from trucks, especially at night or in bad weather when driver fatigue might be an issue. Be particularly cautious when passing a truck and avoid lingering in the truck’s blind spots. By understanding the risks and driving defensively, you can help ensure your safety on the road.