The average person underestimates how difficult it is to drive semi-trucks professionally. It is exhausting work, as many employees engage in shifts much longer than what the average retail or blue-collar job would require. Many commercial drivers are on the road for at least half the day and drive the maximum number of hours allowed.
Their employers will often pressure them to work long shifts, as there is currently a shortage of licensed commercial drivers. Unfortunately, working long shifts and having family responsibilities after work can significantly increase the fatigue levels of commercial motorists.
Someone who is fatigued at the wheel is incapable of driving as safely as possible. What makes fatigued driving so dangerous when someone is in control of a semi-truck?
Fatigue directly affects driving skill
It takes more focus and training to safely operate a commercial truck than it does to drive a traditional passenger vehicle. The degree of difficulty is one reason that semi-truck drivers have to have a commercial driver’s license. They need more training to handle dangerous circumstances appropriately for their safety and the protection of the general public.
Fatigue affects driving ability in a variety of different ways. A drowsy or exhausted driver will have longer reaction times. In other words, it will take them slightly longer than a well-rested driver to apply the brakes or swerve when traffic conditions change. Additionally, fatigue affects someone’s ability to make the right decision during stressful moments in traffic.
Finally, fatigue can diminish someone’s chances of staying fully awake and alert at the wheel, which is always a safety concern. If the truck driver needs an extra second to react, that could be the difference between them bringing their vehicle to a complete stop and rear-ending someone else in traffic.
When fatigue affects someone’s focus or decision-making ability, they could easily cause a crash that has tragic consequences for others. If they fall asleep at the wheel, they could cause a catastrophic collision that involves multiple other vehicles when they lose control of the semi-truck.
Commercial transportation companies should encourage their workers to get enough rest and to be as safe as possible behind the wheel. Unfortunately, they often pressure drivers into staying at work longer than they should, a choice that may ultimately lead to a preventable collision. When one occurs, injury victims may be in a position to hold these companies directly responsible for their harm.