Some in South Carolina may say the transportation industry is more important than ever these days, and that an essential component of the transportation industry is the trucking industry. Sadly, some truckers in an effort to meet deadlines or earn commissions drive recklessly, endangering other motorists they share the road with. One of these reckless decisions is the decision to drive while fatigued. After all, long hours on the road can cause anyone to become drowsy. The following are some risk factors that come with drowsy driving.
Driving overnight disrupts your circadian rhythm
Whether or not you consider yourself a night owl, our bodies are naturally drowsy between midnight and 6:00 a.m. and again from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. We should rest during these times if we can. However, some truckers make the risky decision to drive overnight when traffic is lighter. This can lead to drowsy driving and a potential drowsy driving accident. Sleep inertia can impair a trucker’s short-term memory, cognitive functioning and reaction time.
Read the labels on your medications
Certain prescription medications and over-the-counter medications list drowsiness as a side effect and warn that people should not drive or operate heavy machinery while using the medication. These warnings should be taken seriously. For truckers this means it may be better to rest during an illness, rather than drive while medicated. Unfortunately, some truckers will ignore this, take medication that causes drowsiness and continue to drive. One study reports that 17% of commercial motor vehicle respondents stated they had used an over-the-counter medication at the time they were involved in a truck accident.
Alertness tricks rarely work
Truckers may think they know the key to staying awake during long hours on the road. They may drink a cup of coffee or energy drink, roll down the window for fresh air, play loud music or smoke a cigarette. Unfortunately, these alertness tricks rarely work and could lead to an unfounded sense of confidence that could easily lead to a truck accident.
Truckers have a duty to drive reasonably under the circumstances. This means not driving if they are fatigued. Drowsy driving easily leads to motor vehicle accidents, and it poses a danger to the public as a whole. Truckers are responsible for ensuring they do not engage in behaviors that would lead to a catastrophic trucking accident.