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How serious is the issue of truck driver fatigue?

Trucking is an important component our nation's economy, allowing manufacturers of goods in Indiana to send their wares across the nation for sale. However, trucking is a business and, as such, businesses will attempt to make as big a profit as possible. This means that trucking companies may provide financial incentives to truckers who make quick deliveries. Unfortunately, this can also lead to truck driver fatigue.

Drowsy driving is always dangerous, but when a trucker operating an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer falls asleep behind the wheel and causes a commercial vehicle accident the damages can be striking. After all, a standard 3,000-pound automobile does not have the laws of physics on its side when it is struck by a fully-loaded semi-truck. And, truck driver fatigue can play a significant role in the trucker's ability to operate their vehicle safely.

For these reasons, it is important for truckers and others to understand how fatigue affects their driving ability. Most motorists are less alert at night, especially if they have been driving for an extended period. Moreover, the first hour after waking is another time when a motorist may be drowsy, especially for truckers who utilize the sleeper berth of their vehicles. This is due to sleep inertia, which impairs a motorist's short-term memory, cognitive abilities, reaction time and vigilance.

In fact, being awake for 18 hours straight impairs a motorist just as much as if they were legally drunk, with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08%. Truckers may try a variety of actions to remain alert, such as drinking a cup of coffee, turning up the volume on the radio, rolling down the window for some fresh air or having a cigarette. However, not only are these tactics ineffective against drowsiness, but they also give the trucker the false sense that they can operate their vehicles safely. In the end, a drowsy driver is a dangerous driver, particularly if they are operating a semi-truck.

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