Our post earlier this week focused on the efforts of at least one U.S.
senator to suspend trucking industry regulations enacted in 2012. The
regulations were changes to hours-of-service rules governing how long
truck drivers can be on the road in a given work week. The regulations
also mandate when and for how long truck drivers should be resting.
The specifics of these hours-of-service rules were not simply pulled out
of thin air. They are based on years of research about the dangers of
fatigued/drowsy driving. In today’s post, we’ll discuss some
of the alarming statistics about drowsy driving.
According to the
National Sleep Foundation, fatigue behind the wheel can impair a driver in ways similar to alcohol
intoxication. One study reveals that when a person has been awake for
18 hours, his impairment may be equivalent to having a blood-alcohol concentration
of 0.05 percent – just under the legal limit. After being awake
for 24 hours, his level of impairment could be equivalent to a BAC of
It is unclear just how often driver fatigue plays a role in truck accidents,
but it is known to be a significant problem. And by the very nature of
their work, truck drivers are more susceptible to fatigue than other motorists
are. Statistics show that shift workers are more likely to drive drowsy
than those who work regular daylight hours.
Another aspect that contributes to truck driver fatigue is the way that
truck drivers are compensated. Most commercial truck drivers get paid
only for time spent behind the wheel and/or miles traveled. This means
that sleep and rest are disincentivized and that truck drivers may be
more likely to continue driving past the point of safety due to financial
Each of us needs adequate sleep to function properly, and fatigued driving
is a risk for nearly all Americans. But commercial truck drivers may be
especially prone to fatigue while also driving the largest vehicles on
the road. Hours-of-service regulation is not just an issue that affects
the trucking industry. We all have a vested interest in making sure that
fatigued truck drivers are not allowed to stay behind the wheel.