In July 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association implemented new guidelines intended to reduce trucker fatigue in Georgia and across the country. The regulations were met with mixed responses. According to the written testimony of The American Trucking Associations, Inc., 66 percent of truck drivers surveyed actually reported feeling even more fatigued after the changes took effect.
This is a significant issue, as trucker fatigue has been linked to serious accidents. When proposing the rules, the FMCSA noted that the guidelines should prevent 560 injuries and 19 deaths every year, also mitigating the risk of 1,400 trucking accidents.
Regardless of the guidelines in place, there are several ways that truckers themselves can avoid falling victim to drowsy driving. For example, obesity and exhaustion have been linked time and again. Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce drowsiness on the road because it can lessen the risk of sleep apnea, which causes sleep disturbances and less rest.
The National Sleep Foundation also suggests the following tips:
- Consume caffeinated drinks to stay awake, but do not rely on them because prolonged use of caffeine can actually lead to worse sleep at night.
- Work in regular stops along the way to get out of the truck and walk around.
- Avoid taking any kind of medication or drug that promises to help a driver stay awake, as these can actually cause impairment and result in an accident.
The FMCSA is still working toward reducing the number of hours truckers spend on the road. For example, the organization plans on implementing electronic logs in which a truck driver can track his or her hours to ensure he or she is not working over the limit.
Drowsy driving is dangerous. Trucking companies and their employees have a responsibility to prevent the activity and preserve the lives of other people on the road.