How long shifts for truck drivers can increase the risk on the road

On Behalf of | Dec 2, 2020 | Truck Driver

With the holiday shopping season well underway, you may notice more commercial trucks on the road than usual right now. Retailers and suppliers alike are desperate for commercial ground transportation services to help them restock and sell as much as possible.

While there’s no question that commercial truck drivers help keep the American economy moving, their economic impact comes with safety risks as well. High levels of commercial trucking traffic around the holidays may increase your risk of getting into a crash with a massive commercial truck.

Increased demand for product and tighter deadlines around the holidays may also increase your risk by putting more strain on commercial drivers. 

Truckers often work up to 14 hours in one shift

There are federal rules that limit how long a truck driver can operate in a single shift and how much they can drive in any particular workweek. Even when in compliance with those rules, a truck driver may be dangerously close to fatigue if they drive the maximum number of hours permitted in a day.

Drivers can operate for up to 14 hours, including breaks during that shift. During the holiday season and times of high demand, companies may receive waivers for those driving limits that allow them to keep their truckers on the road for even longer. More time at the wheel means higher levels of fatigue and greater risk for a crash.

The longer a trucker works, the worse they drive

The longer you go without sleep, the worse your brain function becomes. Driving is a safety-critical task that requires optimal cognitive functioning for safety purposes. People who feel drowsy might have longer reaction times when at the wheel. They can also struggle to focus and make appropriate decisions. There is also the terrifying risk of someone falling asleep at the wheel and temporarily losing control of the vehicle.

A trucker who has been on the road for more than 12 hours could feel so fatigued that they have a difficult time safely maneuvering the massive vehicle under their control. If you get hurt in a crash caused by a truck driver, especially if they seemed tired or discombobulated after the crash, it’s possible that fatigue or even intentional rule-breaking contributed to the collision.