Passenger car drivers in Illinois share the road with large commercial trucks every day. Given their sheer size and weight, it’s easy to see why trucks are some of the most dangerous vehicles on the road when they are involved in accidents. When you combine a large semi-truck with a fatigued truck driver, the risk of accidents gets higher.
Long driving schedules
Truck drivers often become fatigued because of the long hours that they spend on the road. It may surprise some people to know that truckers are legally allowed to drive for 11 consecutive hours. Truckers can follow this long workday as long as they did something else besides drive for the previous 10 hours.
Even if a truck driver took 10 hours off in between shifts, the downtime may not have done much to reduce his fatigue. The unusual working hours that some truck drivers keep can make it difficult for them to sleep. For example, if a truck driver drove all night, it may be difficult for the driver to sleep all day. Some people can never adjust to night shifts.
The stats don’t look good
Regardless of what causes truck driver fatigue, the stats on falling asleep behind the wheel don’t look good for truckers. When asked in a survey, one in 25 truck drivers admitted that they had fallen asleep behind the wheel sometime in the last month. Another worrying statistic is that 50% of truckers admit that they drink alcohol. That percentage goes even higher when surveys involve only U.S. truckers.
Drowsy driving can be as bad as drunk driving
When a person doesn’t sleep for over 24 hours, their cognitive functioning declines to the level of a person with a blood alcohol content of .1%. The legal limit for BAC is .08% for passenger car drivers and .04% for truck drivers. That means that a truck driver who has missed a night of sleep and is driving for 11 hours is essentially driving as though they are drunk. Other factors like pressure to make time deadlines can increase the risk of truck accidents even more.