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How does fatigue affect truck driver performance?

October 12, 2015

When you share Kentucky highways with a fatigued truck driver, you are driving alongside someone who is insufficiently aware of his or her surroundings, and may therefore be unable to detect a dangerous situation. A study published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states that sleepy drivers keep their eyes facing forward for longer continuous periods, instead of moving their line of vision from side to side at regular intervals. This limits drivers’ sensory intake of their environment, including your position on the road. They may not notice you, your vehicle, or changes in driving conditions until it is too late to avoid a collision.

The FMCSA found that drivers experienced fatigue when they were bored, and have little more to do than watch the road ahead. You may be able to spot a drowsy truck driver on the road by what you can observe him or her doing. You may notice a fatigued truck driver trying to counteract drowsiness by adjusting his or her position, stretching, rubbing the face or the back of the neck, or even singing.

The study suggests that some of the activities drivers use to try to stay awake are actually considered potentially hazardous distractions unto themselves, such as talking, fiddling with a radio, smoking, or drinking a beverage. You can be the victim of a truck accident when fatigued drivers under pressure to deliver try to compensate for inadequate rest with distracting behavior.

Regardless of the attempt to stay alert, the study showed that when truck drivers are fatigued, their ability to stay safely in their lane, and out of yours, is compromised.