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Drowsy Driving: The Leading Cause of Truck Accidents

— July 14, 2021

If you feel drowsiness setting in, try to pull over whenever possible. Take a few minutes to rest your eyes, freshen up, or take a short nap.

Drowsy driving is more common than you think. According to a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, one in every 25 adults fall asleep behind the wheel during a month. However, there are certain professions where there is a higher chance of fatigue due to work conditions.

Truck drivers are exposed to long hours of driving, shift work, and prolonged stress. Being in a fatigued state while behind the wheel can significantly increase the risk of traffic accidents, and it is, in fact, one of the leading causes of truck crashes.

What is Drowsy Driving?

Drowsy driving, also known as fatigued driving, is a condition that sets in when the driver is very tired. The NSC warns that drowsy drivers are three times more likely to be in a traffic accident. The symptoms can vary greatly, display different intensities, and can be hard to recognize. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Episodes of microsleep
  • Delayed perception
  • Delayed reaction time
  • Difficulty remembering the past few miles
  • Biased decision making

While it is obviously dangerous to fall asleep while at the wheel, the danger starts well before that. Fatigued drivers may have delayed perception and reaction time, thus endangering their own life and everyone else with whom they share the road. 

If you are involved in a truck accident, consider contacting a Long Island truck accident lawyer. As a trucker, your livelihood depends on driving, so it is essential to have good legal representation. A qualified lawyer can handle all the proceedings brought on by a traffic accident, leaving you more time to focus on your recovery. 

Leading Causes of Drowsy Driving

Many causes can lead to drowsy driving. Some of these can be attributed to the person, while others to working conditions. Truck drivers are particularly exposed to this danger because of the following work conditions:

  • Long hours behind the wheel
  • Shift work
  • Nighttime driving
  • Driving in extreme weather conditions (particularly in the heat)
  • Inability to get proper rest and sleep

Truckers may be required to drive up to 11 hours per day. This means 11 hours when they have to be on high alert about road, weather conditions to practice safe driving. Getting a good night’s sleep is not always possible under these conditions. In time, this will build up and can lead to potential health and psychological problems. 

Given the size and weight of a truck, it is more challenging to maneuver than a standard vehicle. Also, add to this that truckers also bear some responsibility for their cargo’s safety, which adds more stress to their daily routine. 

Furthermore, road and weather conditions can also play an essential part in bringing on drowsy driving. Even the state of the truck can contribute to this. The responsibility to ensure the safety of the truck conditions is shared between employee and employer. Truckers should regularly check the state of their vehicle and immediately report any nonconformities. The company should then take immediate action.

Gravel hauler on the road in the rain; image by Vlad Vasnetsov, via
Image by Vlad Vasnetsov, via

Some drivers may suffer from sleep disorders, like sleep apnea. This can provide a further impediment to getting a restful sleep whenever it is possible. What is more, prescription medications can lead to sleepiness. Therefore, truckers need to pay extra attention to this aspect. Carefully read the prospect and mention this issue with the pharmacist. There might be alternative pills available that do not display this side-effect.

Drive Safe: Stay Awake

One important way to stay awake behind the wheel and practice safe driving is to inform yourself of the dangers. It is essential to be aware of such hazards and learn how to recognize the signs.

If you feel drowsiness setting in, try to pull over whenever possible. Take a few minutes to rest your eyes, freshen up, or take a short nap. Although there is a tight schedule to keep, it is more important that you lower risks during your drive and reach your destination safely.

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