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The Absolute Cure for Driver Fatigue

Truck Driver Fatigue

Truck Driver Fatigue

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.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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13 Responses to The Absolute Cure for Driver Fatigue. - Post a Comment

  1. Bonnie MacPherson

    I have to disagree with the statement, “The only absolute cure for driver fatigue is sleep”. That will only work if the cause of the fatigue is a lack of sleep.
    I am exhausted/fatigued most of the time while driving, every day. One cause of fatigue is a bad seat and pain caused by sitting in this seat every day. Constant pain causes fatigue.
    Another cause is driving a truck governed at 65 mph. Because of the pain, I would prefer to stop frequently and move, can’t. I just have to force myself to stay in the seat and make the miles. Stress causes fatigue.
    Sleep will not cure fatigue caused by these sources. At this time, I am just stuck dealing with the pain with pain killers and the fatigue with energy drinks.

  2. […] Read more… […]

  3. Mind Games

    The greed in this industry by those who sit in seats of power knows no bounds due to the fact they were not raised to respect and love The Creator and all his creations up to and especially his fellow man which leaves them unfortunately as soulless profit driven entity’s that will lie cheat and steal to keep the status quo and thus leave us with an industry that will never achieve its full potential in terms of safety, profit and balance of power amongst the workers and those in seats of power.

    Until these underlying issues are addressed we will continue to see death and destruction on our highways.
    Until the White, Black and Brown Knights of the highways come together and push back against those in seats of power and push for a seat at the tables where negotiations are being made the Knights will continue to be crowned as the Demons of Death on the Highways when they are in fact allowing themselves to be used as pawns.

    True safety is more than a few extra hours in a bunk instead true safety can only be achieved by facing the truth and embracing it and dealing with greed, something that will take more than a simple law to to truly fix.

    • Robert Harsell

      Greed, yes. The FMCSA should go after the greedy. Actually, for a while, I believe that is what was happening. Not now, however.

      With regard to fatigue, the focus of the FMCSA should be the companies who coerce drivers to drive. The opposite is occurring. The FMCSA’s endorsement of electronic recorders, their removal of the split sleeper berth provision, and their strict enforcement of the 14 hour clock has put greedy companies in the position of being able to squeeze every minute out of their drivers.

      The FMCSA is now the ally of the greedy trucking company.

    • Charles Hanna

      Very well said !

  4. Allen Smith

    There are many “causes” of fatigue, but the primary cause is lack of sleep. This article focused on the primary and the only cure is sleep. Drinks, changing a chair, how you sit, etc., etc., does not “fix” the problem of fatigue. Only sleep can do that, unless of course, it is an underlying medical condition.

  5. Thomas Ingraldi

    As I have said a thousand times. We need to fight the 14 hour clock. It is a law that has the completely opposite effect of what was intended. We have to hurry thru our day to “beat the clock” in order to make a paycheck. We have to worry constantly at any delay at a shipper or receiver because our clock is running and we may not have time to park legally and safely. No 14 hour clock no worries about time running out before we can park. Most of us out here, are out here because we are flexible in our sleep schedule. We know to sleep when we are tired and before the 14 hour clock, we did. We napped to avoid rush hour in cities, school zones. We also could break for a decent lunch and\or shower. Now everything must be crammed in to fit the clock. Yes the cure to fatigue is sleep. But I sleep when I am tired and cannot sleep because the clock tells me to. Common sense and good judgement should dictate when you sleep. Not any clock nor any other person. Letting dispatch drive your truck is a recipe for disaster. You drive your truck when you feel you should any other decision should be cause for giving up your CDL. TRI

    • Russ

      Amen Brother.. I’LL 2nd That..!!

  6. Caryl Anne

    While 30 minute breaks could help with fatigue, I still believe it’s up to the driver and their body. One option may work for a driver, and not for another. As you mentioned, sleep is probably the best option any driver would need, especially after long hours on the road. Thanks for sharing!

    • Allen Smith

      Thanks Caryl:

      What I tried to share in this article is that the major problem with truck driver fatigue is lack of sleep. A bad back, joint pain, etc., are medical conditions which is a whole different story when talking about fatigue. There are tons of “causes” of fatigue; traveling down a rough highway for endless miles wears me down fast, but this is a secondary aspect of “fatigue.” This post covered purely driver fatigue. The kind when we can’t keep our eyes open any longer; drowsing off; seeing things; can’t think clearly, etc. It is at this point when we reach fatigue that only sleep will cure the problem.

  7. […] Sleep is the cure for fatigue- A truck drivers job is demanding, and the lack of rest can cause serious ramifications in regards to highway safety. If a driver plans his/her trip and there is no adequate parking available in either the rest area or truck stop, he/she is forced to move on, many times driving fatigued, looking for an available spot, whether that be legal or illegal parking. […]

  8. Leslie Miller

    I worked the night shift as a nurse for 22 years. It will rarely happen but probably does, when a 20 minute nap during your one hour lunch break will save your job. I fear as a truck driver fatigue is a far more complicated issue and may need more than that….like frequent stops to stretch, not running the heater or getting too comfortable, singing. I bet a trucker has to get pretty darned creative.

  9. Charles Hanna

    Truck driver fatigue is a result of being made to work like an hourly employee for piece meal wages !
    An Over The Road Truck Driver spends 168 hours a week at their work station ( The Truck ) !
    A Truck Driver is at work on the 10 hour break in a state of readiness and responsible for the security of their emp!oyer’s equipment and customer cargo which they are not compensated for
    The fact is truck drivers work another full time job for free so they cannot afford time off for adequate rest !
    If truck drivers was paid for their work thing would change !

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