Sometimes, external factors contribute to major motor vehicle collisions. For example, inclement weather conditions like icy roads or high winds can make it much harder to control vehicles, especially larger, heavier vehicles like commercial trucks. However, in most collisions, behaviors on the part of one or more of the drivers involved play more of a role than outside factors do in the collision.
You might imagine that with all the extra training and regulations that truck drivers have to deal with that they wouldn’t make mistakes at the wheel that could endanger them and others. Still, truckers are human and prone to the same kinds of mistakes as everyone else. Three behavioral issues in particular can create risk for everyone else on the road.
Long days on the road can drive someone to distraction
Think about how bored you get during your commute to work each day. Now imagine that instead of 30 to 60 minutes, you were driving for eight or even 12 hours at a time. Many commercial truck drivers follow the same route day after day or week after week. Much like your route to work which has become monotonous and dull, so, too, can their work and routes become mind-numbing.
To push back against that boredom or combat the strain that long hours can place on a relationship, commercial truck drivers may choose to make unsafe decisions, such as texting or even using social media while driving.
Distraction in commercial truck drivers is particularly dangerous, as it increases their reaction time while in control of a vehicle that already takes longer than others to stop or turn. Additionally, the massive size of commercial vehicles creates the risk of catastrophic damage to the smaller passenger vehicle involved in a crash.
Commercial truck drivers often work too many hours
Commercial truck drivers have to deliver the loads assigned to them on a very tight schedule. On top of needing to earn enough money to support themselves and their families, they have to fulfill their obligations to their employer, who may need to have a lot of driving done in any given week.
The Hours of Service rules set by the federal government limit truck drivers to no more than 11 active driving hours in a single shift with a mandated 10-hour break afterward. However, those rules don’t consider the commute at the beginning or the end of the shift.
Drivers may have to spend quite a bit of their 10-hour break doing chores or self-care instead of sleeping. The less sleep a trucker gets, the more likely they are to experience fatigue or exhaustion, which can impair their driving ability much like alcohol.
Intoxicating substances are particularly dangerous for commercial drivers
It is both illegal and dangerous for anyone to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle after having consumed too much alcohol, used recreational drugs or taken many different kinds of prescription medications.
Unfortunately, people can and do still drive when they know that chemical impairment could affect their abilities. Truck drivers could choose to drive while under the influence of powerful cold medication, for example, if they feel like they can’t call in sick to work. Someone else might get called into a shift they don’t want to turn down after having spent the afternoon drinking with their friends.
Regardless of the circumstances, impairment on the part of commercial drivers is dangerous for them and for the people who share the road with them.