If you are a veteran truck driver, you could probably write the book on sleep deprivation. Fatigue is an enormous concern in the trucking industry, for a couple of different reasons. First of all, your days can be very long. Also, you will either be sleeping in the cab of your truck or a different hotel room every night. Or day. That’s part of the problem. There is no normal bedtime for a long-haul truck driver. The lack of a normal pattern of sleep can impair your ability to drive safely on the road. Physicians going through grueling residency training have much in common with your day-to-day life. “Work when you can, and sleep when you can” is good advice.
Long-haul trucking can be lucrative, but you have to maintain high miles every week, which means you need to be available when the loads are ready. You could be making a delivery at 3:00am one morning, then drive 6 hours to your next delivery destination. The next day, your schedule may be completely opposite. As you well know, the trucking business is 365 days a days a year and runs 24/7. Shippers and receivers want their loads delivered at the appointment time. Then, it may take 3-4 hours for your load to get in cue and be unloaded so you can get off the clock, and then try to find a parking spot to pull over for the night. It’s tough to keep long enough hours on the road, still be within the legal guidelines, and get proper rest. You can plan your week out on paper, but sometimes your body may not be following your schedule, and you could have difficulty falling asleep immediately after the day is done.
10 Hours Doesn’t Mean 10 Hours of Rest
Legally, drivers need a 10-hour break to sleep. But once you find a parking spot, get something to eat and take a shower, you are eating into ‘Sand Man’ time. In reality, most drivers don’t get enough sleep when they are on the road. People differ in the amount of sleep they need, but researchers generally land on 7-8 hours of sleep each night for the best rest. Scientists call it the “Circadian Rhythm” and it is the normal sleep cycle your body craves. But as you know, truck drivers, like airline pilots, don’t have a normal sleep cycle when working. You could go to bed at midnight tonight, and it might be 3pm tomorrow: it just depends.
The Numbers Tell the Story
The National Institutes of Health conducted a sleep study for long-haul truck drivers, and the results are eye-opening.
Every year, more than 5000 people are killed in the United States in accidents involving commercial trucks, and more than 110,000 people are injured. The estimates vary about how many crashes can be attributed to fatigue, but they go as high as 56 percent.
Thankfully, there is much more research being done now on the health consequences of fatigue, sleep deprivation, and disruption of circadian rhythms. It has been well-documented that sleep-deprived drivers of any kind are considered as unsafe as drunk or drugged drivers.
At Fleet Oil & Truck Supply, your safety is our Job One. We want to keep you and your rig up and running with our equipment, and also want to keep you alert and well so you can enjoy that well-earned time off! Contact us if we can be of assistance to you!