The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has now expanded its definition of impaired driving to include drowsy driving. The NHTSA states that drowsy driving is a form of impaired driving that negatively affects a person’s ability to drive safely.
According to a study performed by the NHTSA, drowsy drivers involved in a crash are twice as likely to make performance errors as compared to drivers who are not fatigued. These crashes result in approximately 1,550 fatalities and 71,000 injuries annually. However, many experts believe that these numbers are greatly underestimated and up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers.
While professional truck drivers are highly skilled in their profession, they are not immune to the effects of fatigue. A study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported that 13 percent of all truck drivers involved in a crash were considered to be fatigued at the time of their crash.
The FMCSA addresses fatigued driving under 49 CFR 392.3 – Ill. The regulation states: “No driver shall operate a commercial motor vehicle, and a motor carrier shall not require or permit a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle, while the driver’s ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle.”
Studies show that fatigued drivers not only have slower reaction times, but they also have a reduced ability to assess their own fatigue levels accurately and are often unaware that their performance has been degraded.
The following are some indications that you may be experiencing fatigue:
Do not rely on alertness tricks or techniques to keep you awake. Behaviors like turning up the radio, drinking coffee, rolling down the window or slapping your face are not considered reliable or effective in addressing fatigue and may give you a false sense of security.
There is only one reliable action that you can take to address fatigued / drowsy driving… that proven technique is sleep. Get a good night’s sleep before you drive and, if you experience fatigue while driving, get off of the roadway and take a nap.
Most experts suggest naps should last between 15-20 minutes and then you should take another 5-10 minutes of recovery time to move around before beginning to drive again.
No delivery is worth risking your life or the lives of others around you.
Always remember… safety first!