With the most recent FMCSA mandated 30-minute break requirement for Class A CDL drivers, the continual attempt to control truck driver fatigue is ongoing.
Although one fatal crash is too many, studies by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has shown that only 1.4% of fatal truck accidents were the result of fatigue.
Safety groups continue to push an exaggerated 30% figure into the mainstream media which is seen as truth by the misinformed general public.
Constantly pushing for and implementing additional regulations to combat truck driver fatigue will continue to prove unsuccessful as an industry attempts to establish a one cure-all solution for a group consisting of millions of “individuals.”
The ultimate responsibility in managing fatigue is up to the individual driver and once brought to the attention of the dispatcher, the proper action must be taken to correct the problem. All too often the driver is told by dispatch to: “Roll down your window to get some fresh air,” “Drink a lot of coffee,” “Turn your radio on,” “Get out and walk around your truck,” or “Splash some water on your face.”
Although these dispatching professionals may consider these options as “words of wisdom,” none of these will have any direct or long-lasting effect in combating truck driver fatigue. In fact, they will have no lasting effect on fatigue, period and most often they will assist in making matters worse.
A driver experiencing fatigue could run around the truck 30 times while drinking 5 gallons of coffee and dumping a barrel of ice-cold water over their head in below-zero temps and 20 miles down the road be falling asleep at the wheel. As one comes to understand true human fatigue, eventually, the body will make you shut down.
No matter the little “tricks” we use or the number of regulations placed on professional drivers, in the end, fatigue will always win. Not even a 30-minute break will fight off human fatigue. To actually overcome driver fatigue, the proper step has to be taken by the individual and accepted by dispatchers and all others who play an active role in driver safety.
The only absolute cure for driver fatigue is sleep.