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Big rig crashes are often related to time of day

Fatigue is a major issue for anyone driving a vehicle because it is an insidious, slow-to-develop condition that can result in disaster on the roadway.

Truck drivers are prone to fatigue, and studies find that at certain times of day, they are more at risk for an accident that could endanger other motorists.

A tiring occupation

Exertion, both mental and physical, is commonplace for truckers who not only drive long hours but who may also load and unload the cargo they haul. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is always looking for ways to combat problems like driver fatigue. Findings from the Large Truck Crash Causation Study indicated that 13 percent of those who drive commercial vehicles and were involved in a crash were suffering from fatigue at the time of the accident.

The circadian rhythm effect

Everyone is affected by their circadian rhythm, the wake/sleep cycle that regulates the peaks and lulls of alert activity in the human body. If an individual has insufficient sleep, the resulting drowsiness will be stronger during a lull, which would affect the performance of a driver. FMCSA studies find that time of day has a bearing on driving performance, pointing out that people are not as alert at night as they are during the day.

The sleep inertia problem

Studies also indicate that truck drivers are more at risk for having a crash in the first hour after awakening, especially those drivers who sleep in the berth in their cab. Sleep inertia may affect cognitive functioning, various performance tasks and reaction time, all of which are critical in an emergency situation. Sleep inertia also contributes to that insidious problem, drowsiness.

Crowded highways

In the state of California, highways are always clogged with traffic and big rigs are a common sight. Motorists in the lane next to an 18-wheeler may trust that all is well since the truck is being operated by a professional driver. However, a truck driver is only human and capable of succumbing to drowsiness. Drivers in smaller vehicles should always be alert around big rigs, especially at night, when a truck driver may be more fatigued than usual.

 

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