The combination of long-haul trucking and freight trains forms a transportation infrastructure that keeps the entire country supplied with goods and materials. Unfortunately, both these transportation methods rely on human skill which could cause a critical failure and lead to devastating collisions.
Officials hold truckers to exacting standards in both their training and their on-the-job regulations. Even though they must follow hours of service regulations, truckers often push the limits of alertness and force themselves to drive while drowsy. While this might seem commendable on the surface, drowsy trucking can lead to severe collisions resulting in serious property damage and catastrophic injuries.
Lack of sleep might be the general reason for fatigued driving, but there are certain factors that might not be readily apparent, including:
- Driver is powering through an illness: When battling any type of sickness, the body will naturally attempt to conserve energy and devote resources to fighting the illness. From the common cold to a serious infection, the body will often crave extended rest periods and lengthy sleep.
- Driver faces a broken circadian rhythm: The body operates on an internal clock called a circadian rhythm. This generally leads to alternating periods of alertness and rest at specific times of the day. A trucker who drives deep into the night might break this rhythm forcing himself or herself to stay alert when all the body wants to do is sleep.
- Driver is under the influence of strong medication: Whether it is prescription medication or an over-the-counter dosage, certain meds have devastating side effects that can hamper a driver’s perceptions and directly lead to drowsiness.
- Driver experiences a sugar or caffeine crash: When feeling drowsy, a trucker will often turn to common methods of getting some quick energy. This could be an energy drink, coffee, soda or a sugary treat. Unfortunately, this energy rush is often followed by a chemical crash a short time later, making the driver even more tired than he or she would have been otherwise.
Distracted, drowsy or impaired truckers can cause devastating collisions on the road. These wrecks can lead to catastrophic injuries and vehicle occupant fatalities. No matter if it is a busy city street or a fast-moving highway, large truck crashes can have severe consequences.