Sleep deprivation is one of the leading causes of accidents on American roadways and it’s especially dangerous when combined with our nations truck drivers. Drowsy driving is an extremely serious matter, and is a leading cause of truck accidents.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that perhaps as many as 100,000 accidents annually can be traced to drivers who actually doze off behind the wheel of their vehicles. In addition, they state that as many as 1500 deaths and 40,000 injuries may be caused by drowsy drivers.
Experts have found that driving while drowsy is similar to driving while intoxicated or drugged. An individual who has been awake for 17 or more hours could exhibit the same driving errors as a person who has a blood alcohol content level of 0.5 in some cases. Drivers who are sleep deprived or drowsy will mirror such DWI driving behaviors as impaired judgment and/or coordination, slower reaction times and/or decreased visual acuity.
Even with recently stepped up regulations by the U.S. Department of Transportation, drivers may be behind the wheel for up to eleven hours a day – which still presents some semblance of danger to the trucker and other drivers on the road, because driving for long periods of time, dulls the senses and leads to general lethargy and fatigue. This is especially true for truckers who drive at night because it is biologically more natural to sleep during that time.
Truckers may also be inclined to force themselves to continue driving even when they are tired because their companies pressure them to meet deadlines and even support skewing or misrepresenting their schedules to allow for greater time behind the wheel. This should be a concern to everyone – but especially other drivers on the road because – according to one final statistic: In 98% of the semi-truck vs. passenger vehicle accidents in which there is a death, the person killed was in the passenger vehicle.