The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires truck drivers to work within strict hours of service requirements. For example, a driver must have 10 hours off duty before being able to drive again for a maximum of 14 hours on duty.
The idea behind the regulations is to ensure drivers do not get behind the wheel when they are too tired. Driver fatigue is a serious concern that contributes to many accidents involving large trucks, but too many drivers do not understand why it is such a serious concern.
Humans need sleep
The human body’s need for sleep is non-negotiable. When truckers succumb to fatigue, their cognitive functions start to mirror those of someone under the influence of alcohol. Concentration wanes, and the risk of falling into microsleeps, which as brief episodes of sleep lasting mere seconds, skyrockets. In these moments, the truck continues its trajectory without a vigilant driver, potentially turning it into a lethal projectile hurtling down the highway.
Other risks of sleepy drivers
Being tired also impacts the field of vision, heightening the chances of missing important cues from the road. Lane deviations, sudden stops and unexpected obstacles become harder to detect. Moreover, fatigue often amplifies the effects of external factors, such as adverse weather conditions or poor visibility, setting the stage for calamity.
A tired driver is a dangerous driver. The demands of the trucking industry can result in drivers pushing themselves beyond their physical limits. Hours of service regulations regulations seek to balance within the industry for the safety of drivers and others on the road.