Trucker Sleep Deficit

Trucker sleep deficit is one of the main causes of trucking accidents. Trucker sleep deficit can also cause truck drivers chronic health problems when endured on a continuous basis. Recently, new laws have been put in place in an attempt to combat crashes and issues associated with trucker sleep deficit.

Trucker Sleep Deficit Laws

The newest hours of service regulations went into effect July 1, 2013. The new law prevents truck drivers from working more than 70 hours a week on average. If a driver has exceeded the 70 hour limit, an exception can be made allowing the driver to work more hours in the week if the driver rests for at least 34 hours. Drivers must also take a 30 minute break within the first eight hours of driving. This newest law was published in December of 2011, but trucking companies were allowed an 18 month window to implement the standard.

Hours of Service Law

In 2004, an hours of service law was passed that prohibited truckers from working more than 14 hours in a day, with no more than 11 hours of the day spent driving. This law did not have the impact that it was expected to on truck accident statistics. This standard is still in place within the newest hours of service law; however more stringent standards have been put in place surrounding those hours. The newest law is expected to yield greater results in terms of truck safety, preventing approximately 1,400 crashes per year. Companies that fail to comply with the new laws will face penalties.

Trucker Sleep Deficit and Accidents

Sleep deficit results in fatigue, which can impair drivers’ ability to respond and react. In some states drivers that are affected by sleep deficit cause more fatalities and injuries than drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs. Falling asleep at the wheel has the highest likelihood for causing fatalities and injuries, but drivers that are fatigued in general have a much higher probability of going off the road or failing to avoid accidents.

Preventing Sleep Deficit Accidents

Lawmakers are optimistic that the new hours of service laws will help to prevent many trucker sleep deficit related accidents. There is also preliminary talk of requiring long-haul truckers to be tested for sleep apnea, as sleep apnea can cause some of the same symptoms of sleep deprivation as lack of sleep. Rumble strips, also called wake-up bumps, are in place on most major highways to alert drivers that they have gone too far onto the shoulder of the road. These prevention methods are in place to protect the safety of truckers and other drivers, but all drivers are personally responsible for ensuring proper awareness before getting behind the wheel.


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